Reform of Ireland’s planning system ‘very necessary’, says Cork developer

Reform of Ireland’s planning system ‘very necessary’, says Cork developer

CORK developer Michael O’Flynn of O’Flynn Construction has said he believes that reforms to the planning system are much-needed to expedite the delivery of housing. Pic; Larry Cummins

CORK developer Michael O’Flynn of O’Flynn Construction has said he believes that reforms to the planning system are much-needed to expedite the delivery of housing.

Speaking to The Echo, Mr O’Flynn said structural issues around the planning system must be addressed.

“I would say planning reform is very necessary, and I don’t mean planning reform for the sake of it, I mean planning reform that’s going to speed up the delivery of housing, which will go to the price,” he said.

“The longer we take to get planning, the more the end product will cost and the end product goes back to the house buyer at the end of the day so we have to review, reform, and make changes.

“We have currently got national guidelines on densities, which are to apply to the whole country but a lot of those densities are more suited to suburban Dublin than they are to the various towns and outlying areas of metropolitan Cork.

“They’re not viable so we’re forced, on the one hand to apply for planning for apartments and on the other hand we have to come up with a product that a couple or a single person can afford to buy so you have that conundrum.”

While reforms are needed, Mr O’Flynn said planning should always go hand in hand with economic development.

“We have to find ways of speeding up the planning system while giving all the stakeholders a proper say but equally we have to have a system that’s conscious of economic development as well as planning,” he said.

“Recently we have a lot of planning being granted but no product actually coming from those planning permissions because, quite frankly, they’re not economically viable.”

New report identifies reforms needed 

Mr O’Flynn’s comments came in the wake of a report published yesterday by the Irish Homebuilders Association (IHA).

The report, which was prepared by Tom Phillips Associates on behalf of the association, identifies planning reforms needed to expedite the delivery of housing.

The report identified a number of reforms including improved resourcing for local authorities and Bord Pleanála; fast-tracking the establishment of an electronic planning system; and ensuring ministerial guidelines are effective in 2021 to ensure design standards can be streamlined to reduce costs and maximise space available for development.

Launching the report, James Benson, director with the IHA, said that the planning system is outdated.

“It is agreed that Ireland needs on average between 33,000 to 36,000 new homes across all tenure types delivered annually for the next two decades,” he said. “But we are trying to meet the demands of the 21st century with a 20th century planning system.

“The result is unnecessary delays to homebuilding up and down the country.

“This landmark report identifies the need for certainty and speed in the delivery of viable housing schemes, while respecting the importance of the planning process.

“We have identified practical, achievable solutions to improve the planning system in Ireland and help meet our common goals of much-needed new homes.”

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