Overall Government policy on one-off rural housing is set out in the national spatial strategy, NSS, which was published in November 2002. The rural settlement policy framework contained in the NSS aims to sustain and renew established rural communities, while strengthening the structure of villages and smaller settlements to support local economies, ensuring that key assets in rural areas are protected to support quality of life and ensuring also that rural settlement policies are responsive to the differing local circumstances in different areas.
It is vitally important that there is certainty and consistency in the implementation by planning authorities of Government policy in this matter through their own development plans and in the operation of the development control system under planning legislation. This is the purpose of the guidelines under the Planning and Development Act which I intend to bring forward to deal with this issue. These are at an advanced stage of preparation and I hope to issue them as soon as possible.