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New administration commits to ‘root and branch’ review of planning regime in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne

The incoming minority Fine Gael government has agreed a programme that includes a ‘root and branch’ review of the planning system and building standards.

It has pledged to end the use of hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation for families by delivering 500 new “rapid delivery” homes.

The document setting out the agreed programme says finance for councils would be linked to their ability to deliver in terms of housing, and a new ‘Help to Build’ funding scheme for the development of affordable housing would be set up.

The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) is being urged to be more ambitious in its delivery of housing and use its expected surplus to invest in infrastructure including housing.

The completion of unfinished housing estates would be achieved by 2017 in a move set to cost €10 million.

The document says a new town and village renewal scheme would be rolled out.

Wind farm planning guidelines would be updated within three to six months to offer a “better balance between the concerns of local communities and the need to invest in indigenous energy projects”.

Reports suggest the effective break-up of the Department of Environment and Local Government. In its place there would be a Department of Housing, Homelessness and Local Government, based in the Custom House.

The environment functions are likely to be subsumed in a new-look version of the old Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. It would become a much bigger department and would probably be known as the Department of Climate Change, Energy and Communications.

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