I propose to take Questions Nos. 1149 and 1150 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.
Circular PD 1/08 updates the earlier policy guidance issued by the Department and replaced circular letters PD 1/06 and 5/06 which directed planning authorities to develop a policy on taking in charge. All planning authorities were required to develop or update, as appropriate, their policy on taking in charge by the end of June 2008 on the basis of the framework set out in Circular PD 1/08.
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 which can include stand-alone treatment plants. 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 14,930 homes.
A Steering Group was established consisting of representatives from this Department, Irish Water and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess submissions and focus on finding solutions through collaboration between government, local authorities, Irish Water, and the EPA.
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: www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/national_taking_in_charge_initiative_report_dec2018.pdf.
The publication of the NTICI report is of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in streamlining approaches to taking-in-charge, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water. In this regard, my Department is liaising with Irish Water in relation to the report.
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 estimated provision of €6 million in 2019. The multi-annual programme was initiated through the invitation of project bids from local authorities in July of this year, 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 and allocations will be made on funding applications in the coming months.