Independent Wexford TD Verona Murphy has hit out at regulators over new “Stalinist” rural planning rules that she says will force rural people into “urbanised ghettos”, claiming that a “Dublin-centric government” does not understand rural issues.
“For a long time now there’s been a lot of disquiet in relation to planning regulation and particularly in relation to rural housing,” Deputy Murphy said.
“If you’re someone who has moved home to a rural area to work from home, and you require a house that allows you to do that, you need to have a very serious economic need. So if you move from Dublin, and you work for a multinational, the likelihood is that you won’t be given planning.
“On top of that we have the national broadband plan, which we’re being told by one arm of the State is being rolled out all across Ireland in the same way that electricity reached every home. And another arm of the States in the form of housing, planning and local government, is telling us that we won’t be able to build houses to access those services.”
Deputy Murphy went on to add that the plans emphasised high-density urban areas, at the expense of those who wish to live in rural dwellings.
“We have a planning policy that’s been put upon us I suppose, that says we must live in urban-density areas, and the policy is to build high-density highrises in small urban towns with no rural dwellings. I think it’s wrong to force families into that type of setting, where ultimately it ends up with antisocial behaviour. Because nobody wants to live in that setting, and it’s not fair to force them into that setting.
“So if we get the typology that’s envisaged by the planning regulator, and the policy that’s put forward, all we will have is terraced housing and 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, and everybody knows that these densities and these types of housing do not fit with low-income earners. We have seen it all around the world.
“As and stands, Merthyr Tydfil – which is a very densely-populated housing area in Wales – the UK government have asked the Bath Institute to carry out a study as to why they have such low incomes, low levels of education in these areas and that’s what we need to look at.”
“We have a Dublin-centric government,” Deputy Murphy added.
“Many of our ministers are from urbanised areas. They know nothing about rural Ireland, and they have never formulated a policy that is beneficial to rural Ireland beyond the national broadband plan. So the reality is that we are going to continue to see the demise of rural Ireland. We will end up with nobody in our rural schools, we will see GAA teams not being able to be fielded because nobody lives there, and the ghettoisation towns and small towns in rural areas.
“You will have heard Deputy Danny Healy-Rae saying that he didn’t know who the planning regulator was, but he certainly felt that the planning regulator certainly didn’t know Kerry. And I think that is part of the rural-urban divide here.
“As a politician, I would certainly be in favour of balanced regional rural development, and we’re not getting that from a Dublin-centric government because they simply don’t understand how we want to live in rural Ireland.
“It’s an absolute power-grab and an assault on local democracy.”