Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (121)

Neale Richmond


121. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of the strategic housing development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38068/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

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 significantly speed up the planning decision-making process, thereby providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined in the planning system, while also fully respecting the statutory requirements for consultation and having regard to observations submitted.

An external review of the SHD arrangements was carried out in 2019. This review particularly highlighted that while the arrangements had generally been a success in providing a fast-track development consent process for developers of large-scale housing developments, the number of SHD permissions that have commenced development is less than might have been expected.

In this regard, with a view to influencing the earlier activation of housing related planning permissions, the new Programme for Government – Our Shared Future commits to introducing a "use it or lose it" condition for all planning permissions of ten housing units or more. My Department is presently progressing the drafting of the necessary legislation providing for the introduction of the proposed new "use it or lose it" housing-related planning arrangements. This will be progressed over the coming months.

The Programme for Government also commits to not extending the SHD arrangements beyond their legislative expiry of end December 2021, which has now been extended to February 2022 arising from Covid-related shutdown of the planning system for 8 weeks, which extended all planning timelines by 8 weeks.