New Kildare Development Plan: One-off Houses

The majority of applications coming before the Council these days are for one-off houses, so this seems like as good a place as any to start the series of articles on the new plan. 

 The first thing to notice about the new plan is that it allocates a certain percentage of the total projected growth for the county to rural housing over the lifetime of the Plan – 15%.  It will be interesting to see what happens if this allocation is met and applications continue to be lodged with the Council. The second thing to note is that the Plan estimates that this 15% allocation exceeds the number of one-off dwellings granted permission during 2005 – 2009 by 20%.  This seems to be a clear indication that the Council are intent on reigning in the amount of one-off houses being granted in the county.

As with any application for one-off housing the first issue which the planners address is whether the applicant qualifies to build a house in the rural area of the county.  This is assessed having regard to what are terms local needs criteria.  the big difference from the previous plan is that the county has now been divided into two.  Broadly speaking the area to the north and east of Newbridge  has been designated Zone 1 and the area to the south of Newbridge has been designated Zone 2 (se Map 4.1 in the Development Plan).  Zone 1 is the more difficult of the two in which to meet the local needs criteria in that the family home needs to be 5 kilometres from the site where it is proposed to build, whereas in Zone 2 a more generous distance of 8 kilometres applies.  The latter is consistent with the distance applied under the previous plan (although it was never actually stated in the plan).  The other main differences between the two zones involves a 7 year versus 5 year timeframe for the length of time engaged on the farm for farmers seeking to build a house.

There had been much concern that the threshold for having lived in a rural area was going to increase from 12 years to 18 years as was provided for in draft versions of the Plan.  However the 12 year threshold has remained for both zones.

Other changes from the previous plan include a specific 7 year timeframe for occupancy conditions (i.e. time applicant must reside in the house following initial occupation); to allow for single  storey backland development for family members  certain circumstances and to restrict access from existing and former tow paths along the canals.

In relation to the replacement of existing dwellings it appears that the applicant now has to qualify under the local needs criteria.  This was not the case under the previous plan.  The only exception to the local needs requirement is where the applicant is replacing a dwelling of the same size and footprint as the existing dwelling.

Finally the new plan recognises the fact that some people living just outside the boundary of the county seek to live in Kildare.  Provision is made to facilitate such people within 5 kilometres of the county boundary, subject to certain criteria.

Overall it would appear that the Council will be applying a stricter approach to the assessment of one-off housing over the lifetime of the new Plan in order to reduce the amount of one-off houses granted by approximately one fifth.  Given that applications for one-off houses are the staple diet of applications before the Council at present there is every chance that the target set out in the Plan is likely to be tested at some stage in the future.

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