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06 Dec 2021

‘Locals only’ queries to EU which could impact on Kilkenny’s planning laws

Kilkenny planning rules look to maintain “strong local ties”

The Government will “engage further” with the European Union on changes to “locals only” planning rules which could see Kilkenny in breach of EU law.

The county’s planning regulations - which can prohibit non-locals from building one-off dwellings in the rural area of the county - could be in breach of the EU’s “freedom of movement” principles.

In 2013, the European Court of Justice ruled that similar conditions insisted upon by the Flemish authorities were “contrary to EU law”.

The judgement led to the rule preventing non-locals from owning houses in the Flemish region being scrapped.

Many county councils – including Kilkenny County Council - have required those seeking planning permission for one-off rural dwellings to be a native of an area as part of the application being considered to maintain “strong local ties”.

Other criteria for applications include persons who were born and lived for substantial parts of their lives in the local area. A working group - comprising representatives from Department of Housing and planning authorities - was established in May 2017 to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing.

In a statement to the Kilkenny People, the Department said: “The deliberations of the working group concluded (in September) and the Department now proposes to engage further with the European Commission on the proposed changes to be made to the 2005 Guidelines, which it is expected will be finalised later this year.

“Planning authorities were advised that the existing 2005 Guidelines remain in place and they should not amend rural housing policies in their development plans until after the revised Guidelines have been issued.”

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