Getting around the ‘locals only’ restrictions on one-off housing: replacement dwellings and refurbishment

How often have you heard the advice that buying a site with an existing dwelling structure will get you around the ‘locals only’ rule? It’s not as straightforward as it might seem.

Kildare County Council

Replacement Dwelling:

Kildare County Council do not require an applicant to comply with the local need criteria for replacement dwellings.  However, the criteria required by the Council in order for an applicant to be considered for a replacement dwelling are stringent.  There are 3 criteria which must be met in relation to the dwelling to be replaced.

(a)  The structure must last have been used as a dwelling and the internal and external  walls and roof must be intact.

(b) A report from a suitably qualified competent person shall be submitted to verify that the dwelling is habitable but that replacement of the dwelling is the most sustainable option.

(c)  Documentary evidence of the most recent date of occupation should be submitted with the application.

The applicant must then satisfactorily demonstrate that the scale, character and design of the proposed replacement house shall be appropriate to the character of the area and existing development in the vicinity. Also, be prepared to accept a condition to demolish the existing dwelling.  Normal planning considerations i.e. drainage, traffic etc will also be taken into consideration.

Refurbishment of Existing Dwellings:

The Council promotes the reuse and sensitive restoration of existing dwellings provided that such dwellings are habitable. The scale, character and design of the refurbishment must be appropriate to the character of the area and existing development in the vicinity. The applicants or proposed occupants will not be required to comply with local need criteria.

The definition of a “habitable dwelling” is provided in Section 2 (Interpretation) of the Planning & Development Act 2000.  A “Habitable House” means a house which (a) is used as a dwelling; (b) is not in use but when last used was used, disregarding any unauthorised use, as a dwelling and is not derelict, or (c) was provided for use as a dwelling but has not been occupied.

Derelict Dwellings:

Where a dwelling house is derelict, it is the policy of the Council to encourage its sensitive replacement as an alternative to the construction of a one-off dwelling elsewhere in the rural countryside. However the proposed occupant shall comply with the rural housing policy for local need and shall use the dwelling for their own occupation and not for resale.

Derelict Dwelling

Normal planning considerations will apply in the case of any application for a replacement dwelling (habitable or derelict) or refurbishment of an existing dwelling i.e. visual impact, traffic arrangements, foul drainage arrangements etc.

Please refer to Chapter 6 of the Kildare County Development Plan 2005 – 2011 for the exact wording of the relevant policies which need to be consulted.

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