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Housing Policy

Since the adoption of the current County Development Plan the Government have published ‘Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’. The Plan acknowledges that ensuring sufficient stable and sustained provision of housing that is affordable, in the right locations, meets people’s different needs and is of lasting quality, is one of the greatest challenges facing the country at present.

The County Development Plan must put in place provisions to ensure that there is enough zoned and serviced land, in the right locations, to meet the needs of the planned population of the County. In this regard there are a number of ‘town plans’ included in the County Development Plan, which will contain zoning plans. For the larger towns, which have their own stand alone Local Area Plans, the County Development Plan will indicate how much zoned land is required in these towns. The NPF identifies national core principles to guide the delivery of housing.

National Core Principles to Guide Housing

  • Ensure a high standard quality of life to future residents as well as environmentally and socially sustainable housing and placemaking through integrated planning and consistently excellent design.
  • Allow for choice in housing location, type, tenure and accommodation in responding to need.
  • Prioritise the location of new housing provision in existing settlements as a means to maximising a better quality of life for people through accessing services, ensuring a more efficient use of land and allowing for greater integration with existing infrastructure.
  • Tailor the scale and nature of future housing provision to the size and type of settlement where it is planned to be located.
  • Integrate housing strategies where settlements straddle boundaries (county and/or regional).
  • Utilise existing housing stock as a means to meeting future demand.
    (Source: National Planning Framework, 2018)

Housing Strategy

A new Housing Strategy will be prepared as part of the new County Development Plan. The Strategy will be informed by a Housing Need Demand Assessment which will assist the Council in developing long term strategic views of housing need across all tenures and provide a robust evidence base to support decisions about new housing supply. The Strategy shall provide that as a general policy a specified percentage (not exceeding 10%) of the land zoned in the development plan for residential use, or for a mixture of residential and other uses, shall be reserved for those in need of social housing in the area. 

Wicklow Housing Stock and Vacancy Rate 1991 to 2016
  1991 1996 2001 2006 2011 2016
Total housing stock 31709  34871 40214 49088 54351 54986
Vacant   2958 2779 2905 5577 5377 4454
Vacancy rate (%)  9.3 8.0 7.2 11.4 9.9 8.1



The National Planning Framework requires that increased residential densities are achieved in existing settlements through a range of measures including reductions in vacancy, re-use of existing buildings, infill development, area or site-based regeneration and increased building heights. The current development plan through the use of town plans identifies desired densities for lands zoned for housing. The same approach is followed through in the local area plans. The Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines for Planning Authorities (DHPLG 2018) require that future housing development on greenfield or edge of town locations must secure minimum densities of 35 to 50 units per hectare in accordance with the Guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas.  Apart from Bray, Wicklow’s town plans generally provide for densities between 10 and 28 units / hectare on greenfield lands; therefore a considerable shift will be required and new housing formats will have to be considered.

Housing 2

Rural Housing

Rural housing requires to be managed to protect the County’s scenic landscape and natural resources, to avoid urban generated housing and to ensure the needs of those with a bona fide necessity to live in the rural area are facilitated. The County Development Plan sets out the policy under which all applications for one off housing in the countryside are addressed. The NPF recognises that careful planning is required to manage demand for housing in the countryside and acknowledges that it will continue to be necessary to demonstrate a functional economic or social requirement for housing need in areas under urban influence i.e. the commuter catchment of cities and large towns and centres of employment.

Housing 4

What do you think?

  • What type of houses are required to meet housing demand?
  • Are there certain groups in society that find it difficult to access housing?
  • Is there a need for a special type of housing in your area e.g. the elderly, people with a disability?
  • Where and how should social housing be provided?
  • Where can high density development be accommodated?
  • How can increased densities be achieved in Wicklow’s towns and villages?
  • Is the rural housing policy working effectively to facilitate genuine rural housing needs while protecting the landscape from inappropriate urban generated development?