I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 to 228, inclusive, together.
My Department’s involvement in the Poolbeg West Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) arises in the context of my statutory role in the designation and future planning of the area as an SDZ, and in that context, setting out the broad views of my Department in relation to planning and housing policies relevant to the preparation and adoption of a planning scheme for the area by Dublin City Council.
In terms of the chronology of events, Poolbeg West was designated an SDZ by order of Government in May 2016. Subsequently, Dublin City Council, as the designated development agency, began the process of drawing up a detailed masterplan or planning scheme for the area designated in the Government Order.
A draft of this planning scheme was published for public consultation from late January 2017 to early March 2017. The draft planning scheme was further considered by the Council in May 2017, after which material alterations were published for 4 weeks from mid-June to mid-July 2017 for public consultation. The final SDZ Planning Scheme was approved by Dublin City Council on 2 October 2017, which decision was ultimately appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
My Department issued observations to Dublin City Council on the draft planning scheme in March 2017, which was followed by extensive engagement during April and May 2017 between my Department, Dublin City Council and NAMA and which also included interactions between my predecessor and the Housing Strategic Policy Committee of Dublin City Council, and local community interests. My Department made a further submission in July 2017 which noted the material alteration in relation to mixed tenure.
All of the above interactions were concerned with determining an appropriate voluntary mechanism, whereby the private owners of the lands covered by the SDZ would agree to deliver additional social and affordable housing within the SDZ area, in conjunction with Dublin City Council and relevant housing providers, over and above the 10% statutory requirement under Part V, subject to satisfying value for money, procurement and qualitative criteria.
In this context, my Department had no engagement with the receiver in control of these privately owned lands on or about the May 2017 decision by Dublin City Council to amend the draft planning scheme in respect of these matters. Notwithstanding the fact that my Department has consistently advised that provision of additional social and affordable housing could be provided in the SDZ area through a consent-based and commercially grounded approach, the ultimate decision of the Council moved towards a mandatory approach, over and above the provisions of Part V.
In November 2017, an appeal was lodged to An Bord Pleanála by the receiver and other parties. There was no engagement between my Department and the receiver ahead of this appeal.
Earlier this year, officials from my Department were in contact with representatives of both Dublin City Council and the receiver. While these engagements were not formally minuted, their purpose was to encourage engagement between these two parties in relation to determining and putting in place an agreed way forward, if An Bord Pleanála ultimately approved the planning scheme.
Details in relation to engagements between other parties which did not involve my Department, are a matter for those parties.