28 Nov 2021

Concern over future of rural housing in County Derry

Some families are having difficulty building locally.

Concern over future of rural housing in County Derry

A County Derry councillor says he fears new planning guidelines will make it more difficult for people to build houses in rural areas.

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McPeake, who is vice-chair of Mid Ulster District Council's planning committee, is concerned about the potential impact of the Department of Infrastructure's ‘Planning Advice Note on Development in the Countryside’ which was recently sent to local councils.

The document provides advice on how councils should be determining rural planning applications including dwellings on farms and in-fill dwellings.

Cllr Mc Peake said he believes the 'additional restrictions' contained within the advice note will make it more difficult for applicants to obtain planning approval should they wish to build within the countryside.

“There will be many who have planning applications already lodged within the planning system with the expectations of having their applications approved as per existing planning policy at the time of application but will now have their planning applications refused as their application will not comply with this new DFI directive,” he said.

“This is grossly unfair and needs to be resisted.

“The planning policies which councils had to work within had been created by DOE in 2015 and were already significantly restrictive in their out workings.

“It was only is narrow set of certain circumstances where dwellings would be permissible to be built within the countryside.

“What DFI is doing now is attempting to further narrow down in those opportunities for applicants to gain planning approval and to thwart much future development in the countryside.

“Since the DFI PAN publication I have been contacted by a number of young people and planning agents who are deeply worried about the new directives from DFI and how it will impact upon present and future planning applications.”

Cllr McPeake said Sinn Féin  believes that local councils as Mid-Ulster have been best placed to make planning decisions which are based upon making rural areas sustainable and where young people have the ability to live within the countryside where they were born and raised.

“Councils have been working within the already restrictive parameters set within rural planning policies and PPS21 and SPPS.

“They have also made and interpreted decisions based on independent Planning Appeals Commission decisions.

“However this newly published DFI directive to councils will have the effect of significantly hampering the ability for local councils to grant future planning approvals for applicants wishing to reside within the countryside.

“Sinn Féin is determined to resist the stymying of opportunities for would-be rural dwellers to apply for planning permission sand to live in the areas where they were born.

“We have requested an urgent meeting of Mid-Ulster District Council Planning Committee to discuss our response to the DFI PAN publication,” added Cllr McPeake.

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