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Ireland's fast-track planning regime set to be toughened up?

Words: Roger Milne
Fast-track / iStock-1051552722

Developers making use of Ireland's fast-track planning regime for major housing schemes may be given just one year to start building or risk losing their permission.

That’s in prospect as the housing and planning minister, Eoghan Murphy, considers extending the scheme, and potentially changing and toughening elements of the initiative.

He established a review group earlier this year and is due to report to the Dail next month (September).

The fast-track regime for so-called Strategic Housing Developments (SHDs) was introduced in July 2017 and was intended initially to apply until the end of this year, with the possibility of extending it to 2021.

According to the latest progress report published by An Bord Pleanála covering the period January 2018 to June 2019, a total of 100 valid applications were received, 70 applications were decided, and permission granted in 50 cases for 12,339 housing units and 7,573 student bed-spaces.

All applications and pre-application consultations were decided within the relevant target period of 16 or nine weeks.

Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, there has been media speculation that the government's new but not yet fully legally established Land Development Agency (LDA) could be forced to curb its influence over fears its proposed sweeping compulsory purchase powers could be in breach of EU competition rules.

There is also concern that plans to allow the LDA to acquire state-owned land for housing at no cost could be a breach of the strict EU rules on state aid, which prohibit governments from giving state agencies an unfair advantage over commercial competitors.

A Department of Housing spokesperson said: ''In establishing a new state agency from scratch, there are always a number of issues that must be worked through. Work will continue on working all elements of the LDA out with a view to having legislation ready for pre-legislative scrutiny in September."

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