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Fast-track planning regime for major housing schemes in Ireland to start

Words: Roger Milne
Eoghan Murphy / OSCE Parliamentary Assembly

Irish planning minister Eoghan Murphy has formally signed the regulations that would fast-track planning applications for major housing developments of 100 units or more, and large-scale student accommodation projects.

The applications would be made direct to An Bord Pleanála (the Board) rather than the local council. The new regime kicks in on 3 July.

The new arrangements will apply initially until December 2019 and, subject to review, may be extended to December 2021.

The new planning procedures essentially involve a two-stage process: the Board will be required to complete pre-application consultations in relation to a proposed development with the developers and the relevant planning authority within nine weeks. The latter will have a key input into the process. 

This stage will primarily determine whether a proposed development is broadly consistent with the relevant development plan or local area plan.

Where a planning application is subsequently submitted to the Board, it will be required to make a final determination on the application within 16 weeks of receipt of the application (except in exceptional circumstances where an oral hearing is required). A new charging regime is also involved.

Ministers are insisting that this new regime should result in planning decisions in respect of strategic housing developments being reached within six months of the commencement of formal pre-application consultations.

Under the current arrangements planning applications for large housing developments take up to 18 months from initial application to securing ultimate approval.

In tandem with the new arrangements for private large-scale housing developments, the minister is also revising the Part 8 process for local authority development proposals, such as social housing, infrastructure servicing both public and private developments, libraries, fire stations, and swimming pools.

These revisions set a maximum timeframe for the determination of a local authority’s own development proposals and will mean these must be decided by elected members within 20 weeks of being first issued for public consultation.

Image credit | OSCE Parliamentary Assembly