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Sinn Féin concerned at Chartered Surveyors response to rural housing

10 November, 2004

Sinn Féin rural regeneration spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Pat O'Rawe speaking before attending the Royal Institute of Charted Surveyors annual conference today in the Canal Court Newry has expressed concern at comments from RICS Chairperson Claire McCarty who said that the building of 37,000 houses approved in the countryside since 1990, is not sustainable given the high level of social, transport, health and other problems.

Cllr O'Rawe said:

"Rural areas are entitled to future development, they are also entitled to a provision of services which allow rural communities to grow. For these services to be sustainable the rural population must be allowed to develop and grow. Particularly rural villages and hamlets where development has been constrained, these villages and hamlets should form part of a clustering of development for rural communities.

"This taken together with an appropriate planning policy that allows one of single dwellings to fit with their natural surroundings and be integrated within the countryside.

"It is a matter of concern that the Chairperson of the RICS appears to be looking at the problem from the wrong direction. Instead of supporting arguments for services to meet the demands of rural communities she is putting forward an argument that rural communities should only be allowed to develop in ways that fit services.

"There is a particular problem for rural families, who wish to remain farming, close to the family farm, in that the criteria for allowing them to build is somewhat outdated. DARD guidelines on the need for dwellings on farms is based on the number of livestock units, with the onset of CAP reforms, and the likelihood of farms reducing the numbers of stock they have this will have a knock on effect on this criteria, furthermore because such a large number of farms here are classified as small it is difficult for a case to be made, and in most cases these farms are farmed on a part time basis.

"For the future of rural schools, post offices, shops, pubs, and many other retailers planned strategic development for rural areas is crucial." ENDS

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