Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing and Urban Renewal Pat Casey TD has warned the Government of a time bomb on rural housing contained within their deeply flawed National Planning Framework which was debated in the Dáil today.
Deputy Casey said, “I have serious concerns regarding the NPF and its impact on rural housing. There are hidden time bombs contained in this deeply flawed plan.
“We all are aware of the need for local people to be able to live in rural Ireland and of the difficulties that far too many people face when they seek to build a family home in their own locality.
“This plan’s attempt to address rural housing states the intention to recognise those who have an economic interest in living in rural Ireland. This does nothing to resolve the difficulty that many face when trying to build a family home in rural Wicklow.
“The Government have not informed the people of rural Ireland what they mean by economic need rather than economic and social need to live in the countryside. They have not explained what the definition of ‘must have a functional economic requirement for housing’.
“In all the public information sessions the Fine Gael / Independent Government have not explained what is meant by economic need because they are only too aware of its implications on rural way of life. If this economic need is adopted it’s another nail in the coffin of Rural Ireland.
“A 4th generation family who have lived in rural Wicklow, works in a factory about 8 miles from the family home and currently qualifies to live in the area they grew up in, but because of this proposed change they won’ have an economic need to live there and won’t qualify.
“Another example is a Wicklow farmer with 3 children. One takes over the farm activities and does qualify to build a home because they have an economic need but the other 2 children have to find their home in a town or village because their need is social and not economic.
“This Fine Gael policy on economic need must be changed before this plan is adopted, because within a very short time of this plan being adopted; this ‘economic need’ will become part of the core strategy of every county development plan.
“This will have a devastating effect on rural Ireland if adopted. It’s already hard enough. This has to be changed. There must be a recognition given rural decline and the pressures that rural commuter belt counties face, that there is a vital social need for local people to be able to build a family home in rural Wicklow.”