As part of the actions under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.
The primary purpose of the SHD arrangements is to support efficiency in the planning decision-making process, providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined, while also fully respecting the need to ensure proper planning and sustainable development, the statutory requirements for consultation and consideration of observations submitted.
The Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply for an initial period until the end of 2019. Section 4(2)(a) of the Act provides that not later than 30 October 2019, the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements must be reviewed and a report of my conclusions from the review must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
In this regard, I have established a Review Group to assess the operation and effectiveness of the SHD provisions and to report back to me by end September 2019. The membership of the Review Group is as follows:
- Mr. John Martin, former Principal Planning Adviser in my Department (Chairperson),
- Mr. David Silke, Housing Agency,
- Mr. David O’Connor, former Chief Executive, Fingal County Council, and
- Mr. Liam Conneally, Director of Services, Clare County Council, (nominated by the County and City Management Association).
To augment the work of the Review Group, a public consultation on the SHD arrangements was advertised and held in July 2019.
Following the statutory review, section 4(2)(b) of the Act provides that I may extend, by order, the SHD arrangements for a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021, to coincide with the remaining timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland.