Planning requirements in Co Louth are "victimising homeowners and encouraging rentals", according to a local councillor who has persuaded his colleagues to vote for a review of strict planning criteria applying in the area.
Cllr Terry Brennan (FG) won the support of county councillors to carry out an interim review of the county development plan in relation to the strict criteria on applying to build one-off rural houses.
At the moment the plan states a housing need is established where "the applicant does not currently own a house or has not owned a house within the previous five years or where his/her current accommodation, as accepted by the Planning Authority, is insufficient to meet his/her accommodation needs".
Cllr Brennan said: "Our plan penalises home owners and discourages people from getting on the property ladder. I don't want a carte blanche here but I believe that local people are being victimised."
Last week 13 such planning permission applications were refused. "People are being forced to sell their own homes and rent another property" to meet the criteria, he said.
The guidelines were adopted with the plan last July and it dictates development in the county up to 2009. The official review of the plan is due to begin at the end of this year and usually takes up to two years to complete.
"Quite often the problem is the different interpretation by different planners of what an applicant's needs are, and I want this clarified so we all sing off the same hymn sheet," he said. "I also want people to be able to state what their own needs are."
The council's director of services and planning Rose Kenny advised that the issue was one interpretation of the guidelines and could be resolved.
© 2007 The Irish Times