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Vague ‘local rural person’ status

CLARE county councillors have agreed to remove a controversial seven-year residency clause to qualify as a “local rural person” for planning permission in the new 2017-2023 Clare County Development Plan.

However, councillors may have inadvertently created another problem for planners after the insertion of a new clause in the classification of the local rural person category. Previously, a person who was not born in an area could not get planning permission for a one-off dwelling unless they had lived permanently in the local rural area for a minimum of seven years.

This category has now been redefined as follows: “A local rural person is a person who was born within the local rural area, or who is living in the local rural area for substantial periods of their lives at any stage(s) prior to making the planning application”.

Under the new plan, planners will have to decide what is “substantial periods of their lives” for any planning applicant.

This category includes returning emigrants seeking a permanent home in their local rural area, who meet this definition. It includes people who were born or lived in a rural area for “substantial periods of their lives” but that area is now within a settlement boundary/zoned land.

A “local rural person” can also include a person who has links to the rural area by virtue of being an established rural landowner.

This is defined as a person and/or their son or daughter, or sibling, who has owned a landholding in a rural area prior to 1999 and who wishes to build on that land. It also provides for beneficiaries under the Succession Act.

The local rural area is defined as the rural area generally within a 10km radius of where the applicant was born or had lived for substantial periods of their lives.

Where the proposed site is of a greater distance but the applicant can demonstrate ties with the area of the proposed site, eg family landownership or being within the same parish as the applicant is from, then these cases will each be considered on their individual merits.

In cases where an applicant requires to reside near elderly parents so as to provide security, support and care, the local planning authority will also give favourable consideration.

The definition of agriculture zoning was amended as follows: “This zone is for the use of land for agricultural purposes and farming-related activities. Individual dwellings for permanent occupancy of established landowners and their immediate family members will be open for consideration, subject to the objectives set out in Chapter 3 of this plan and normal site suitability considerations.”

By Dan Danaher

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