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An Bord Pleanála struggles with workload and misses targets

Words: Roger Milne

Last year An Bord Pleanála struggled to keep pace with a 19 per cent rise in casework, which meant that only 67 per cent of appeal decisions were made within the statutory target, according to the agency’s annual report.

Vacancies at board level compounded the problem.

The increased workload has continued this year, with total decisions made up to August 2018 some 25 per cent higher than last year. However, compliance with the statutory timeframe remains low for appeal cases as the planning agency made inroads in the backlog.

Only 35 per cent of decisions were made in the statutory period.

Board membership and overall staffing has improved since the beginning of 2017.

The picture for fast-track major housing proposals is more encouraging, however, with the board deciding all applications within the 16-week period. Over the past 12 months the board has received 36 applications for schemes that are being handled by the new regime.

The report notes that the board is currently dealing with two strategic development zone projects for major urban schemes in Dublin. Both have been appealed.

In the case of the Poolbeg West SDZ, which is meant to provide some 3,500 new houses and flats in Dublin 4, the scheme has yet to be approved by the board, which has requested additional information from Dublin City Council. This means a final decision on the scheme is not now expected before next year. The council approved the SDZ over a year ago.

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