New Development Plan must work for rural communities – McGuinness

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that Waterford’s new development plan must work for rural communities and address the hardships faced by so many families in securing planning permission under the old 2011 plan.

McGuinness said:

“Waterford has been subject to an outdated and inadequate development plan for five years or more. The current plan came into force in 2011 and should have been replaced in 2017.

“One of my key priorities as a Councillor has been to make a new, fit-for-purpose development plan and I was vocal in campaigning for this work to begin following false starts and delays that can be traced back to Fine Gael and Labour’s forced merger of local authorities and their abolition of town councils in 2014.

“Work on a new development plan to finally replace the 2011 plan has been underway for some time and will hopefully conclude in the coming days. My priorities in making the plan have been to ensure sufficient land is zoned for housing in our towns, that our villages can grow and thrive, that the Gaeltacht is protected, and crucially, that young families from rural communities can secure planning permission.

“The 2011 plan puts inordinate barriers in the way of rural families building their own homes. It has caused real hardship for families across Co. Waterford and has contributed to the housing crisis in our towns and villages, as families that want to continue living in their rural communities have been forced to enter the housing market in urban areas – thereby adding to demand.

“Government policy seems designed to force young families out of rural Ireland and into larger towns and cities. Planning regulations, the ongoing failure to deliver broadband connectivity nationwide, a failure to invest in rural communities and services, and the entirely inadequate roads budget all point to a desire to force people from the countryside.

“I have argued forcefully for a more understanding and considered approach in the new development plan, that will allow planners to take into account the social and economic connections that applicants have to their homeplaces.

“My hope is that there is sufficient political support to make a new development plan that works for rural communities.”

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