Under the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, 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 (the Board) for determination.
The Board has received 204 SHD applications up to the 30 April 2020, in respect of a total of 57,332 homes (comprising 16,322 houses, 33,855 apartments and 7,155 Build to Rent homes), 12,022 student bed spaces and 600 shared accommodation bed spaces. The Board has granted permission on 132 SHD applications in respect of a total of 35,871 homes (comprising 9,583 houses, 20,962 apartments and 5,454 Build to Rent homes), 9,498 student bed spaces and 410 shared accommodation bed spaces. With regard to the other 72 applications; 36 were refused, 1 was referred back to the Board following judicial review, 1 was withdrawn, with the remainder still awaiting a decision.
Of the applications that were granted permission under the SHD arrangements, it is understood that commencement notices have been lodged in respect of 38 of these projects to date. A total of 9,553 homes were permitted in the developments in respect of which commencement notices have been lodged (comprising 4,262 houses, 5,002 apartments and 289 Build to Rent homes), as well as 5371 student bed spaces.
The recent review of the Strategic Housing Development arrangements highlighted that while they have 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. Having reflected on the views of the Review Group on the rate of activation of SHD sites, it is considered appropriate that developers should be sufficiently motivated to commence development on foot of an SHD permission in a timely manner, given the efficiencies that the SHD arrangements provide.
Therefore, I indicated that I considered 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. My Department has been developing proposals in this regard, the further advancement of which will be considered in context of the legislative programme of the incoming Government.