Concerns raised by members over the past number of months surrounding one-off housing and the confusion around planning rules from next March were discussed at a meeting between Macra na Feirme, Minister Peter Burke and Senator Tim Lombard.
The minister reassured Macra that the banning of one-off rural housing was untrue.
Rural housing output traditionally makes up 25% of all housing in the county, which is considered to be in line with the rural population.
According to Minister Burke, approximately 85% of all one-off housing planning permissions are granted every year.
Macra representatives highlighted the importance of rural housing as a vital part of ensuring young rural people stay and grow within rural communities, sustaining these communities for the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed everyone that employees do not necessarily need to be located near our places of work but can work from their homes.
Ireland’s first national network of remote working hubs was recently launched and, overall, there are approximately 400 remote working hubs with plans for more and the Government has committed to the provision of fast, reliable digital connectivity through the National Broadband Plan.
In the policy document, Our Rural Future: Rural Development Policy 2021-2025, the ambition is outlined to have more people working in rural Ireland, with access to more employment opportunities.
In order for this ambition to be fulfilled not only must one-off housing be possible, it must also deliver new housing within the existing built-up areas of rural towns and villages, with the rest of the homes to continue to be distributed at the edge of settlements and in rural areas.
The updated rural housing planning guidelines are currently being prepared by Minister Burke’s office, and are expected to be due for public consultation in the autumn.
The most recent sustainable rural housing guidelines were released in April 2005. There can be no doubts that rural Ireland and its needs have changed since then. It is essential that the next set of guidelines pro-actively plan for rural communities in economic, social, and environmental terms.
Macra na Feirme welcomes submissions expressing their views in an email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.