To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the position regarding the working group comprising officials from planning authorities and his Department which was established to review and revise the 2005 planning guidelines on sustainable rural housing; if the review has concluded; if he has engaged with the European Commission on proposed changes to the guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Following engagement between the European Commission and my Department regarding the 2013 European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, a working group was established in May 2017 to review and, where necessary, recommend changes to the 2005 Planning Guidelines on Sustainable Rural Housing, issued under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The objective is to ensure that rural housing policies and objectives contained in local authority development plans comply with the relevant provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
The working group comprised 3 senior officials from the Planning Division of my Department and 6 senior officials from the Planning Divisions of local authorities nominated by the Local Government Management Agency. The Group met on three occasions: 18 May, 13 June and 28 June 2017.
Taking account of the working group's analysis and recommended outcome, my Department has been engaging with the European Commission on the matter with a view to issuing to planning authorities, by the end of this year, revisions to the 2005 Rural Housing Guidelines that take account of the relevant ECJ judgment. It may be possible to finalise the Guidelines earlier than that, subject to the completion of outstanding work.
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