Developers clamour to avail of fast-track planning laws for housing

An Bord Pleanála said it received 53 pre-application submissions between September and November. There were 24 such submissions in October, almost double the 13 the board received in the same month last year.
Developers clamour to avail of fast-track planning laws for housing

Digital Desk Staff

Developers are rushing to avail of fast-track planning laws and seeking formal talks with An Bord Pleanála on dozens of large housing projects as a key deadline looms.

As The Irish Times reports, the clamour to make use of the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) regime comes despite many projects being delayed by objectors taking cases in the High Court against approvals.

The SHD laws took force in 2017 in a bid to speed up the delivery of new homes with direct applications to the planning appeals board.

The laws, for schemes with more than 100 residential homes or more than 200 student dwellings, have been heavily criticised for cutting local councils from the approval process, with no appeal option before court.

The SHD regime closes to new applications next February but developers must first have pre-application consultations with An Bord Pleanála.

Such consultations are mandatory and developers are working to a December 17th deadline for initiating talks with the board on new projects.

An Bord Pleanála said it received 53 pre-application submissions between September and November. There were 24 such submissions in October, almost double the 13 the board received in the same month last year.

Upward trend

With the regime soon to end, planning experts say privately that “the trend is upwards” as developers push to advance projects. “Developers have been preparing for this moment for a very long time,” said one senior figure.

The board received 96 formal SHD applications between January and November this year and 109 pre-applications in the same period.

Conor Norton, president of the Irish Planning Institute, which represents professional planners, noted new large-scale residential development legislation to replace SHDs will restore councils’ roles in planning, with “some improvements” to the process.

Asked how he interpreted the rush to avail of the fast-track regime, Dr Norton said: “It must be perceived that there might be more favourable outcomes from the SHD process for proposers than there might be from local authorities.”

The delivery of new homes is the Government’s top priority after the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Department of Housing, the 226 SHD permissions by September include 13,623 houses, 33,456 apartments and 9,945 build-to-rent units. They also include 1,330 shared accommodation units and 13,660 student bed spaces.

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