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Emergency legislation to fast-track social housing mooted in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne

New housing and planning minister Simon Coveney plans to introduce emergency legislation to enable the planning system to fast-track social housing projects.

In an interview the minister said he was planning new rules to reduce the public consultation period from eight weeks to four, and to give planning officials delegated powers to approve projects without the need to secure the support of councilors.

He also plans to deliver 1,000 modular homes - double the current target - as part of efforts to provide units as quickly as possible.

Coveney also revealed he was considering using state-owned lands, including sites owned by Irish Rail in Dublin and Cork, to deliver housing.

But he does not expect to see an increase in the number of homes being completed this year, despite delivery being well below the level needed to meet demand.

Last year, just over 12,600 homes were completed across the country, far short of the 25,000 to 30,000 required. Coveney said an infrastructure fund will be put in place to open up sites and provide roads, water, power or other services where needed.

Meanwhile RTPI Ireland has written to the new minister, supporting his comments that the housing and homelessness crisis is the number one priority for Ireland.

The Institute has offered to work with him to explore how the planning system can be part of the solution.

RTPI Ireland has also submitted evidence (pdf) to Dáil Éireann’s Homeless and Housing Committee, stressing that planning has an important role in providing a quality home for everyone who needs one and that this requires investment in housing and infrastructure.

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