Clare Councillors say they’re up for the ‘fight’ with the Planning Regulator and the Minister for Housing on the County Development Plan.
It comes as elected representatives are set to get legal advice on the constitutionality of population allocations in the National Planning Framework.
The Government’s multi-billion euro National Planning Framework includes targets for population growth in certain areas, and this Framework has to be adhered to when Councillors draw up the new County Development Plan.
Clare’s population is targeted to grow by up to 18,000 people by 2031, though Councillors here are concerned that this will be disproporinately spread in the Ennis and Shannon areas rather than rural towns and villages.
Under the framework, houses will not be able to constructed on rural land unless proof can be provided that there is a social economic need for the build.
Last evening’s monthly meeting heard how this may impact on school class numbers and GAA teams in the next number of years.
It’s prompted elected members here to ask the local authority’s County Solicitor for legal advice on whether such population targets adhere to the Irish constitution – a ‘fight’ that Council CEO Pat Dowling has warned could ‘take years’.
Lissycasey-based Fianna Fail Councillor PJ Kelly says the vast majority of planning applications in this county so far this year are for one off houses in rural areas.
He believes current legislation is unequal and discriminatory.
Legal and constitutional advice regarding a potential future plan is now expected to be received at a later date.
There are suggestions Councillors may look to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, and go ahead with their desired County Development Plan outside of the framework.
Clonlara-based Independent Councillor Michael Begley believes representatives shouldn’t easily pass off measures that may be to the detriment of rural parts of Clare.
The current County Development Plan, which began operation in 2017, has now been formally extended to April 2023.