I propose to take Questions Nos. 670 to 672, inclusive, together.
Residential developments consisting of two or more dwellings that have been granted planning permission under section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) may be eligible (depending on the grant of planning condition) for taking in charge. The taking in charge of residential estates by local authorities is provided for under section 180 of the 2000 Act and is a reserved function of the elected members.
Under Section 180 (1) of the Act, the planning authority is obliged to initiate taking in charge procedures where requested by either the developer or by the majority of owners of the dwellings. However, this is subject to the development being completed to the satisfaction of the authority and in accordance with the permission and any conditions.
As the Deputy may be aware, section 180 of the Act also provides that in relation to estates which have not have been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced within the relevant period, the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the majority of the owners of the houses, initiate the procedures set out in section 11 of the Roads Act 1993 for the taking in charge of an estate.
Section 180 was amended through the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 to provide that a planning authority may take in charge an unfinished estate at any time after the expiration of the planning permission in situations where enforcement actions have failed or the planning authority has not taken enforcement action (for example, where it considered such action would be futile). Planning authorities are now specifically empowered to take in charge part of an estate, or some but not all of the facilities in an estate.
Under amendments made to the 2000 Act by the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018, from 22 October 2018, section 180 of the 2000 Act also applies to Strategic Housing Developments, specifically to the houses and associated infrastructure in such developments. Other amendments made under the 2018 Act include that where such development has not been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced by the planning authority within four years, beginning on the expiration of the appropriate period of the permission (or such period extended under section 42 of the 2000 Act, as amended), the authority shall, where requested by the majority of owners of the houses involved, comply with section 11 of the Roads Act 1993, but the authority shall disregard the financial implications of doing so.
In addition, the authority may at its absolute discretion, at any time after the expiration of the relevant permission authorising the development or where it considers that enforcement proceedings would be futile, initiate the procedures under section 11 of the Roads Act 1993 where requested by a majority of the owners of the houses in question.
My Department launched the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative (NTICI) in April 2016 to trial new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the taking-in-charge process of housing estates, including estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure (DPI). Under the terms of the NTICI, which was underpinned by €10 million in funding, developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the associated call for funding proposals. Ultimately, €7.5 million of the allocated funding was paid to local authorities in respect of 330 developments, containing some 13,400 homes.
Findings and recommendations from the NTICI process were included in a report on the initiative that was published by my Department in December 2018. The report is available at the following link -
The publication of the NTICI report is of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in applying the lessons from the pilot authorities, in a more general roll-out of a streamlined approach to taking-in-charge, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water.
Ultimately, however, progression of individual developments through the taking-in-charge process is a matter for the relevant housing developer, the residents in such developments and the relevant local authorities, following the procedures laid out in section 180.
The National Development Plan published last year includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for developer-provided infrastructure, commencing with an estimates provision of €6 million in 2019. The multi-annual programme will be initiated through the invitation of project bids from local authorities followed by their evaluation by an Expert Panel, set up by my Department, to independently evaluate the bid projects and make recommendations to my Department on suitable projects to be approved for funding. It is expected that approval of projects for this first cycle multi-annual programme will take place later in Q1 2019.