Minister for Disabilities and Fianna Fail TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbitte, has called on Galway County Council to reassess the way in which they plan for one-off housing as part of the Draft Galway County Development Plan 2022-2028 being developed at present.

 

The comments come as the deadline for the public consultation on the Draft Galway County Development Plan 2022-2028 nears. Members of the public can make submissions on the draft plan until 30th July 2021.

 

Minister Rabbitte commented:

Week in, week out, I’m meeting people across Galway encountering barriers to building houses in rural areas and it’s devastating to see, both for the people themselves but also for the life of the villages they want to live in. We need to take a close look at the development and planning needs of rural Ireland and see what we can do to ensure our communities can survive for generations to come, like those before us.

She continued:

We shouldn’t be driving away young people who want to build a house on their family land or a purchased site so they can live where they grew up. The lifeblood of any village, parish and town are the homes that fill it, which in turn populate our GAA clubs, shops, farms and other businesses. There are some real, practical steps that can be taken to help regenerate rural Ireland and this applies to Galway as much as anywhere. In fact, recent statistics show that there needs to be an estimated 195% increase in housing delivery in Galway to meet government targets.  Needless to say, it’s important that all housing planning permissions in rural areas should only be granted where the local authority is satisfied that such a dwelling meets the requirements. There are, however, a number of issues popping up that are causing real issues for people.

 

Minister Rabbitte continued:

One reason for planning refusal I’m seeing constituents receive relates to road access. I think it needs to be a case where if an entrance already exists to a county or secondary route, this should allow for others to also create their access point. In such cases then, permissions can be based around traffic surveys and reports being carried out by the relevant experts to ensure the proposed entrance isn’t a danger to road users or negatively impacting the area. This is particularly important where the landowner may have no other potential access to the road. It’s a simple change that could have such a positive impact on so many families.

 

Of course, this is all in the context of me having to contact my party colleague, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien TD, in recent weeks to get clarity for constituents concerned about whether they would be able to seek planning permission for housing in their local area. Minister O’Brien has confirmed to me that there are no plans for any blanket bans on rural housing contrary to misleading claims made by some politicians.

 

As a rural TD myself, I know all too well the importance of people being able to build their own house on their own land. It is what’s created our villages right across the country and will be what keeps them going

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