Sir, – Frank McDonald claims that giving planning permission for rural housing undermines the viability of villages and small towns (Opinion & Analysis, February 13th).
Does he not know that the planning authorities have been refusing planning permission for rural housing for the past 15 years, and it has only contributed to the further decline of villages, because it has prevented the older, rural population being replaced by new families, leading to the closure of shops, schools, pubs and churches in villages all over the country. A village lives off its hinterland as well as on its resident population.
There may be a case for restricting one-off houses in scenic locations, but the vast majority of rural areas never see a tourist, or a journalist, and huge tracts of the country are being slowly denuded of population, for no good reason.
There is absolutely no evidence that restricting one-off housing leads to growth in house-building in villages. The national census figures since 2006 show an unrelieved decline of virtually every village that is not within commuting distance of a large town or city.
If the new National Planning Framework wants to encourage the development of villages, as it aims to do, local authorities must put in place positive incentives to induce people to live in those villages, and stop banning housing in rural areas that would feed those villages.
Some social housing would help, too. – Yours, etc,
Tralee, Co Kerry.