Tuesday 27 September 2016

Tom Parlon: Failure to make changes will keep brakes on construction

Tom Parlon

Published 27/07/2015 | 02:30

Tom Parlon
Tom Parlon

As it stands, it takes approximately 79 weeks, from the day you apply for planning permission, to go on site.

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At present, a third party can lodge an appeal to An Bord Pleanala in cases where planning permission has been granted.

This means a developer might have to wait another six to eight months, as the initial decision is reviewed from the start.

It's extremely frustrating for developers and the delay is just extraordinary.

It's also a major cost for builders and developers.

I welcome the fact that An Bord Pleanala is investing in technology, but this review is badly needed.

It needs to be brought up to a world class planning appeals body because better practice is needed.

There are members in the Construction Industry Federation who have developments in areas where residential development is badly needed, but they can rest assured it will be more than a year-and-a-half from the time they make the initial application until the planning is approved.

It has nothing to do with finding buyers who have been granted mortgage approval - it's just the actual planning process.

It's ridiculously slow at the moment. It doesn't bear any relationship to the commercial reality of the risk and investment involved. There is absolutely no doubt it is one of the main factors slowing down the construction of houses. They need to invest in technology and online applications to bring it up-to-date and up-to-speed.

Individuals have rights under our Constitution with regards to planning.

Builders don't want to take advantage and ride roughshod over these rights - but they want a system that is speedy and efficient.

The system needs to operate quickly. In other jurisdictions, you can be sure you will have a decision within six months.

Before somebody lodges their formal application they should be able to sit down with the planner to discuss what issues need to be addressed. Delays are expensive. If you have your finances organised, and customers in place, and then the development is delayed by a year-and-a-half it costs huge sums of money.

There is a demand out there, but we are currently building way less houses than are required, particularly in Dublin. It's extremely frustrating. At the recent National Economic Dialogue I looked at issues with Environment Minister Alan Kelly that might help develop the economy over the next few years.

I made it clear to him that the planning system is not up to scratch. At present, the authority drags everything out to the limit. There is no question a major revamp is badly needed.

Failure to make necessary changes will seriously impact the recovery of house building in Ireland, at a time when we can least afford it.

Irish Independent

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