I propose to take Questions Nos. 1143 and 1175 together.
Section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), provides for the taking in charge of housing developments by local authorities. The most recent amendments to the provisions were incorporated in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 with a view to further strengthening and streamlining the taking-in-charge process.
Under section 180(1) of the Act as now constituted, where a planning authority considers that a development has been satisfactorily completed in accordance with the planning permission granted, it shall, where requested by the developer or a majority of the owners of the houses involved, initiate the taking-in-charge procedures under section 11 of the Roads Act 1993 (the Roads Act) not later than 6 months after being so requested.
With regard to developments that have not been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced by the planning authority within 4 years of the expiry of the planning permission relating to a development, section 180 (2)(a) of the Act now provides that the planning authority shall, where requested by the majority of owners of the houses involved, initiate the taking-in-charge procedures under section 11 of the Roads Act.
The most recent amendments further provide under section 180(2A) of the Act that where enforcement proceedings have not been commenced by a planning authority within 4 years of the expiration of the planning permission concerned or the planning authority considers that enforcement proceedings will not result in the satisfactory completion of the development by the developer, the planning authority may in its absolute discretion, at any time after the expiration of the planning permission concerned and where requested by a majority of the owners of the houses in question, initiate the taking-in-charge procedures under section 11 of the Roads Act. Where this approach is adopted, the authority may apply the security or bond given as part of the planning application for the satisfactory completion of the development.
Furthermore, section 180(2A) now provides that the initiation of the taking-in-charge procedures under section 11 of the Roads Act shall not preclude the planning authority concerned from pursuing a developer for any costs incurred by that authority in respect of works undertaken on a development to enable it to be taken in charge by that authority.
In addition, the most recent amendments of the section 180 provisions were supplemented by amendments to sections 34 and 35 of the Act. In this connection, section 34 - which relates to applications for planning permission - has been strengthened to provide that planning authorities shall, in the assessment and determination of planning applications, have specific regard to previous developments by a developer which have not been satisfactorily completed as well as any previous convictions against the developer for non-compliance with the Planning Act, the Building Control Act 2007 and the Fire Services Act 1981.
Section 35 of the Act - which relates to refusal of planning permissions for past failures - has been strengthened to empower the refusal of planning permission in situations where a developer has previously left an estate unfinished under one company name and then re-applies for permission for a new development under a different company name.
All of these changes were specifically aimed at strengthening the taking-in-charge processes and better ensuring the satisfactory completion of housing developments, and were somewhat informed by a Private Members Bill entitled the Planning and Development (Transparency and Consumer Confidence) Bill 2013 tabled by the Deputy.
I have no plans to make further amendments to the section 180 taking-in-charge provisions of the Act at this time.