Under section 126 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, An Bord Pleanála (the Board) has a statutory objective to determine planning appeals within 18 weeks. Where the Board does not consider it possible or appropriate to reach a decision within 18 weeks (e.g. because of the particular complexities of a case or the requirement to hold an oral hearing), it will inform the parties of the reasons for this, and will indicate when it intends to make its decision.
It is acknowledged that there has been a reduction in the Board's compliance rate with the statutory objective period over the past year due to a number of factors, including an increase in the number of cases it has received. Total case intake in 2018 was 2,734, up 6% on 2017. At end January 2019, the compliance rate for determining normal planning appeals within the statutory objective period stood at 39%, and for all planning cases, the rate stood at 42%.
A range of measures have been taken to address the situation, including the appointment of additional Board members and the provision of additional resources. Ongoing and planned recruitment processes will see staffing levels increase further in the months ahead.
I am satisfied, taking account also of the increased Exchequer grant of €18.5m for the Board in 2019, a 7% increase on 2018, that the measures involved will enable the Board to significantly improve its compliance rate over the coming months. Indeed, the number of cases decided by the Board in 2018 was up 32% on 2017 and the Board's output is now at circa 250 cases per month.
The Board has a complement of 11 members, including a new Chairperson who took up duty on 30 October 2018, and an extra Board member engaged in June 2018 to supplement the normal complement of 10 members. While a vacancy have recently arisen on the Board within that complement, this is due to be filled shortly. The Board also employs over 150 staff members including 10 additional dedicated staff engaged in 2017 to support the Strategic Housing Division.
My Department will continue to liaise closely with the Board to ensure that it has appropriate resources to support it in the performance of its functions