A number of Sligo councillors have hit out at what they see as excessive restrictions on people building homes in rural areas.
The councillors aired their concerns at this week’s special council meeting to discuss the County Development Plan, which will cover the next six years.
Some claimed, for example, that houses and sites that were approved some years ago would not now be allowed.
While planners say some of what is in the plan is for guidance to help those building houses, councillors say that once something goes into the plan, it becomes obligatory.
The describe the plan as ‘the bible’ to which they say they are always referred to by planners when they raise questions.
Independent Councillor Margaret Gormley says restrictions on housing are limiting people in rural areas.
Fine Gael Councillor Sinead Maguire noted that the County Development Plan says those planning to build a house should avoid elevated or exposed locations such as hill slopes, ridge lines or vast open spaces where the building would appear intrusive or break the skyline.
She asked if one took all those locations into consideration, what was left.
Cllr Gormley claimed people wanting to build a house were being ‘put down into a hole and they could take it or leave it.’
Council Senior Planners Frank Moylan and Michaela Davidescu said what is in the plan is not prescriptive and was simply trying to get people to take account of their heritage, and to try to preserve the character of the county.
Cllr Maguire said they all loved the county but they wanted people to live in it. They did not want to be left in a situation where they were preserving a great big park.
And Fianna Fail Councillor Paul Taylor says they are getting complaints all the time from people in rural areas.:
Meanwhile, both the council chief executive, Ciaran Hayes and Independent Councillor Michael Clarke says there is now a relaxation of certain restrictions on one-off rural housing.
This is to ensure the council’s development plan is in line with a European decision called the Flemish Judgement, as Independent Cllr Michael Clarke explains to Ocean FM News: