During Wednesday’s Dáil debate, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae raised concerns about rural housing guidelines, asking when “enough is enough?” The guidelines were issued 18 years ago, but there is still no new policy in place. While the government has published draft sustainable and compact settlement planning guidelines, it has failed to do so for rural communities.
Deputy Richard O’Donoghue also spoke during the debate, stating that young people are being forced off their land due to unreasonable policy decisions and restrictions in granting planning permission for rural homes. He called on the government to publish new rural housing guidelines to bring clarity and certainty to rural communities exploring the option of restoring old farm homesteads or building a rural one-off home. The hope is that new rural planning guidelines will allow for planning permission to be permitted for rural housing in all rural areas for those who have a genuine housing need or connection to the local area.
There was also a request from Deputy O’Donoghue to relax outdated planning laws to allow sustainable log cabin units to be constructed without unnecessary planning permission requirements. This could be done by amending the planning regulations to facilitate the construction of temporary or permanent structures for residential purposes on family-owned lands in rural areas.
Danny Healy-Rae raised the issue of national primary and national secondary roads in Kerry, stating that planning permission in the area is very difficult to obtain, and is becoming even more difficult as time goes on. He pointed out that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has prevented many people and families, including farmers and their relatives, from getting permission to exit through their own entrance onto a national primary or national secondary road, even if there is an existing entrance. The national park to the south of Killarney is also impacting the area.
Healy-Rae appealed to the Minister for Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, to do something to allow people to get planning permission or to make it easier. He noted that many people are just trying to provide houses for themselves and are finding it impossible to get planning permission. The only option for those in the vast area is to buy a house in Killarney for €700,000, which is not feasible for many. The people of Kerry, including east Kerry, are struggling with the current situation.