My Department is currently reviewing the 2005 rural housing guidelines for planning authorities (which were issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000) and in doing so, having regard to the principles of the outcome of the ‘Flemish decree’ case, where relevant.
It is important to clarify that the ‘Flemish Decree’ was a March 2009 Decree of the Flemish Region (a Federal Region within Belgium), on land and real estate policy, which made the purchase or long-term lease of land (i.e. all immovable property, that included existing, homes, businesses and farms) in certain Flemish communes (local authorities) conditional upon there being a ‘sufficient connection’ between the prospective buyer or tenant and the relevant commune. As such, the Flemish Decree effectively restricted significantly more than development rights in respect of new housing. The broad scope of the Flemish Decree was such that it was successfully challenged in the European Court of Justice, which ruled that it was contrary to EU freedoms.
The 2005 Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines are framed in the context of the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2002. Given the superseding of the NSS by the National Planning Framework in 2018, the updated Rural Housing Guidelines will address rural housing in a broader rural development and settlement context and I expect to receive a draft before the end of March.
My Department communicated to planning authorities (Circular letter PL 2/2017) on 31 May 2017, advising them that the existing 2005 Guidelines remain in place until advised otherwise by the Department.
Under the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Rural Housing 2005, planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing.