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Planning laws review under way in earnest

Words: Roger Milne
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Officials have started a comprehensive review of Irish planning law in moves intended to streamline the process in one planning act and speed up delivery of housing  and key infrastructure projects.

This exercise, led by the Attorney General Paul Gallagher with input from housing and local government minister Darragh O’Brien and his department, will take 18 months. It  is expected to result in simplifying and accelerating the planning process, as well as making it harder to delay developments by court challenges.

This move comes amid growing political fears that complex planning processes and the increasing use of judicial reviews as a tool to obstruct planning applications are delaying the delivery of new housing and schemes set out in the National Development Plan.

The existing fast-track planning regime for major housing schemes is set to be abandoned after legal challenges effectively clogged up the process.

Plans are already under consideration for a dedicated planning court like the one established for England and Wales.

Planning minister Peter Burke has written to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing to explain that the government wants to revive judicial review reforms that stalled after last year’s general election.

He has asked the committee to consider the general outline of draft laws before the summer recess so the Department of Housing can advance the plans in the autumn.

“It is considered timely that the issue of judicial review reform in the area of planning be now reactivated, considered and further progressed,” writes the minister in the letter seen by The Planner.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin this week signalled that he wanted to see “fewer delays through legal challenges” as part of a new drive by his government to deal with the housing crisis.

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