News & Media

Strategic Housing Development rules must be scrapped

30 October 2019

Statement by Jan O'Sullivan TD
Spokesperson on Housing & Local Government, Enterprise & Innovation

Labour Housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan TD has called on the Minister to admit that the removal of planning functions from Councils to An Bord Pleanála for strategic housing developments of 100 units or more has failed to deliver, and instead of extending these rules that they should now be scrapped.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“The rules introduced by Fine Gael to remove planning functions from councils have failed to stimulate housing development. Instead developers have hoarded sites, while many fast track planning applications have been appealed to the courts for judicial review as was predicted at the time.

“When the Government brought these Strategic Housing Development rules for proposals of 100 homes or more in, they were warned by the Irish Planning Institute that it would damage democracy and increase the risk of judicial reviews, that it was misconceived, and that the planning process was not holding back construction.

“Instead, with the agreement of Fianna Fáil these new rules were imposed on local authorities stripping away powers to a more centralised planning system that undermined local democracy.

“What we now know is that two thirds of developments granted permission have not even begun construction.

“The latest rule change proposed by the Minister for Housing is a recognition that his policy has failed. A use or lose it rule will just paper over their original mistake.

“The fast track rules have failed, and planning powers should be returned to local authorities to undo the damage Fine Gael did.

“We said when the law was first proposed that it was trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist while stripping powers from local planning departments. There was no problem granting permission at the time. What developers wanted was less conditions and less public scrutiny.

“We also know that there are significant delays still at An Bord Pleanála with 60% of cases not decided within the 18 week limit.”