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Sustainable Rural Development-Managing Housing in the Countryside Project Coordinator Dr. Mark Scott Project Team Prof.

Peter Clinch Dr Declan Redmond Dr Paula Russell Dr Deirdre OConnor Dr Jim Kinsella Dr Craig Bullock Dr Alistair Fraser Karen Foley Vivian Brophy Menelaos Gkartzios Geraldine ODaly Dan Gilbert Funding: EPA Abstract Recent years have been characterised by considerable policy development in relation to rural housing. Both the National Spatial Strategy (2002) and the Planning Guidelines for Sustainable Rural Housing provide significant new departure points for the practice and research of rural housing development. Key aspects of this new policy context include: the adoption of a spatially differentiated rural housing policy, which recognises that community and environmental contexts vary considerably within different rural area types; a recognition of contrasting drivers of rural housing (urban and rural generated housing); the identification of the potential for new housing development to be accommodated within villages; and the need to balance the economic and community aspects of sustainability alongside the environmental dimension of rural housing. The aim of this research project is to complement and further develop this policy direction by recording, developing and promoting best practice in relation to managing rural housing. As identified in the international academic planning literature, translating strategic spatial planning policies into local implementation remains an enduring challenge. This project responds to this challenge by not only providing key baseline information for future policy development, but also by examining innovative

policy tools and instruments for more effective delivery of desired spatial planning outcomes, and developing best practice in terms of environmental and community assessments to inform local planning decision-making. This EPA project addresses the issue of rural sustainability in contemporary Ireland, in particular focusing on the interface of managing the built and natural environment in rural areas. Although considerable literature and research exists examining sustainable development in cities, at present there is currently a dearth of research examining sustainability in a rural context. To address this deficit, this proposal aims to examine rural sustainability through an inter-disciplinary team, involving researchers with a background in: environmental planning; spatial and land-use planning; economics; environmental studies; landscape architecture; rural development; sociology; geography; transport studies; architecture; and building technology. The project addresses the extent to which current patterns of rural development are meeting the requirements of sustainable development. The focus of the research is the relationship between rural housing, rural development and sustainability. In particular, the interest is in the increasing difficulty that is being experienced in addressing the issue of housing development in the rural areas of Ireland and the vexed relationship that exists between planning policy and many rural communities. This has been an issue for many years, but increasingly the debate has become contentious and polarised. This is due to an accelerating pace of development, the changing population dynamics of rural areas, and the recognition of the need to include environmental considerations in the planning process. Central to this debate is the concept of sustainability and its interpretation and application in rural areas.