Regulator says no to houses along any road that leads to a national primary or secondary route.

Rural housing in Mayo hangs in the balance

RURAL planning in large swathes of Mayo is under threat due to a recommendation from the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR).

It would mean residential development on all roads across the county that lead to a national primary or secondary route is not permitted.

Mayo councillors removed the clause in drafting a new county development plan, but the OPR, in a report to the Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, say that decision must be reversed.

Councillors are urging the minister not to sign what one described as a 'ludicrious' recommendation.

"At a time when its social and economic fabric is collapsing, we cannot allow these people to destroy rural Ireland," said Councillor Al McDonnell.

Every formula is being used to 'hunt us into urban settings', he added.

If the recommendation is accepted it ‘would close down half the county for development’.

The move would exclude every road that leads to an 'N' route with a limit of 80 or 100kph, with the exception of the villages.

"We will do whatever we have to do to challenge this. We will not accept it," he vowed, saying the plan was finalised by the councillors with the agreement of the executive and planners.

Councillor Michael Kilcoyne said it was a shocking attempt to stop people building houses on their family lands in the country. The situation is now a 'wait and see', but with rural housing 'hanging in the balance' he agreed a confrontation looms between the council, government and regulator if the recommendation is accepted.