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country living

Guidelines for building one-off homes in rural Ireland to be published 'imminently'

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien says the updated plan will be published in early January.

PEOPLE LOOKING TO build one-off homes in the countryside are to get certainty in the new year as the government plans to publish its long awaited rural housing guidelines.

The issue of one-off housing has been a thorny issue for the coalition partners in government, with the Green Party understood to be strongly opposed to building large numbers of one-off rural homes due the impact it might have on the environment, instead favouring houses being built on serviced sites.

However, a number of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs see such house developments as just one part of the solution.

The issue has been put on the long finger for a number of months now, with the Rural Housing Guidelines, which the government’s Housing for All policy says will “give certainty” to people, being delayed in the last number of months.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien confirmed to The Journal that the new guidelines will be brought forward “imminently”.

He said the guidelines had not been updated for years, but Junior Planning Minister Peter Burke will bringing forward the revised plan if not before Christmas “certainly within a matter of weeks”.

“They’ll be published to give that certainty the people need in the rural areas,” said the minister.

While O’Brien said he represents a Dublin area, his constituency also has a big rural farming community, adding that he completely understands the need for rural housing, particularly where people are running farms and businesses, and they need to live close to it.

There is also an issue with vacant properties in Ireland’s towns and villages, he said, stating “we need to have vibrant towns and villages, so it doesn’t have to be one or the other”.

“We can have a good robust rural housing policy that’s fair to rural dwellers, but there has to be a connection there, there’s no question, you can’t have a situation whereby you have people coming out of urban areas and being able to build and develop all over the country, we’ve got to manage this properly,” he said. 

The new guidance will be published “very early in January”, said the minister.

The government’s new Town First plan for the regeneration of towns and villages will also be published alongside it in the new year, said O’Brien. 

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