Large-scale housing developments that bypass councils for planning may have 'detrimental impact' on Cork

Large-scale housing developments that bypass councils for planning may have 'detrimental impact' on Cork

Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Housing Committee, has called for the legislation on SHDs to be abolished immediately.

Fast-tracked strategic housing developments (SHD) have had a “detrimental impact” on Cork, according to a northside TD.

Figures suggest that less than half of houses, just over one-fifth of apartments, and less than 55% of granted student development applications under fast track planning legislation have been commenced.

A developer can lodge a planning application directly with An Bord Pleanála, and bypass local authority planning departments, if the development is larger than 100 units.

The legislation was introduced in 2017 by then Minister for Housing and Cork South Central TD Simon Coveney.

Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Housing Committee, has called for the legislation to be abolished immediately.

During a committee meeting this week, members were told of the impact of the legislation on the delivery of housing.

Mr Gould highlighted research that suggests the legislation hasn’t had the desired impact on housing.

“Research conducted by journalist Killian Woods indicates that 162 planning applications have been granted via the SHD legislation up to this week. These planning permissions have the potential to deliver 11,949 houses, 31,808 apartments and 12,126 student bedspaces,” Mr Gould explained.

“Of these planning permissions, commencement notices have only been lodged with respect to developing just 41% of the houses, 21% of the apartments and 54% of the student bedspaces,” he continued.

“The system is not working and is being abused by developers who are sitting on sites with permission just to increase the land value.” He said that a number of “controversial developments have been approved in Cork” which have had a “detrimental impact on planning”.

“We can clearly see that many of these decisions were not focused on improving infrastructure and building sustainable communities. I raised this issue of this being bad legislation that was developer-led and benefitted only developers,” he said.

In the programme for government it was committed to that the legislation would not be extended, however Deputy Gould said that continuing until February 2021 “is just not good enough”.

“Once the SHD legislation is abolished, we must introduce meaningful reforms to the planning legislation that introduces statutory timeframes for pre-planning, requests for additional information and appeals to the An Bord Pleanála.

“This will ensure planning decisions can be progressed within the quickest possible time frame without undermining democratically agreed development plans and local participation in planning,” he concluded.

Previously, Fianna Fáil Councillor Seán Martin told The Echo that proper planning needs to be taken into account: “The worry about all of this is once they go over the x figure for housing they can just bypass local government and local residents and to me there’s a black hole there. That needs to be revisited.”

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