As part of the actions under the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland, 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 Act provides that the SHD arrangements apply until the end of 2019, but that I may, by order, extend that period by a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021, coinciding with the timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland. However, prior to the making of such an order, the Act requires that I review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report of my conclusions of the review.
In this regard, a Strategic Housing Development Review Group was established in June 2019. The Report of the Review Group was received on 24 September 2019. The Report acknowledges that the SHD arrangements have generally been a success in meeting their objectives to contribute to addressing housing undersupply issues by providing a fast-track development consent process aimed at incentivising developers to bring forward applications for large-scale housing developments.
Notwithstanding the positive contribution that the SHD arrangements have made, the Review Group notes that there continues to exist a deficit in housing supply and affirms that the original rationale for the introduction of the SHD arrangements remains. In light of these findings, the Review Group considers that there are sufficient grounds for extending the SHD arrangements until the end of 2021.
I concur with the finding of the Review Group in this regard and propose to shortly sign an order to this effect. A report on my conclusions of the review, as well as the Review Group's Report, have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, as required by the Act and copies of both reports are available on my Department's website.
In addition, I have reflected on the views of the Review Group on the rate of activation of SHD sites, and I consider it appropriate that developers should be sufficiently motivated to commence development on foot of an SHD permission in a timely manner given the benefits the SHD arrangements provide. Therefore, I consider that it would be appropriate to introduce a "use it or lose it" measure requiring developers to have commenced a certain level of development within a certain period of time on foot of a grant of an SHD planning permission and I intend bringing forward the necessary legislation in this regard in due course.