Sunday 25 February 2018

'Inefficient' planning process delays building of family homes

Environment Minister Alan Kelly
Environment Minister Alan Kelly
Tom Parlon
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

The building of much-needed family homes is being delayed because An Bord Pleanála is not functioning efficiently, the head of the Construction Industry Federation has claimed.

The Federation's Director General, Tom Parlon, made scathing criticisms as Environment Minister, Alan Kelly, ordered a major review of its operations.

The minister said an "organisational review" is necessary as the construction industry prepares to take off again.

The timing is opportune to "ensure that it is appropriately positioned for the future," he said.

Mr Parlon stressed a "radical overhaul" of the entire planning system is now needed to cope with the current logjam in house building.

"There is a demand out there, but we are currently building way less houses than are required in the marketplace," he said, adding that the problem is particularly acute in Dublin.

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

An Bord Pleanala is a legally established independent body mainly tasked with making decisions on planning appeals.

It recently came under some scrutiny over alleged delays in the planning process.

An expert group, chaired by British barrister Gregory Jones QC who specialises in town and country planning, environmental, European and compulsory purchase law, will carry out an independent investigation of the Bord's operations.

Advice will be sought on how to increase output - while also reducing unnecessary litigation. The board's technology requirements and financial resources will be assessed.

It is intended a report will be submitted to the minister within six months.

The terms of reference states the review should recommend measures to ensure planning applications and appeals are discharged in an efficient and timely manner as the economy recovers. The implications of proposed changes to the planning system, including the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator, will also be examined.

Mr Parlon told the Irish Independent the reality of the current situation is that the country now needs "a world-class planning appeals body''.

He said builders who have developments ready to go 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," he added. "It's ridiculously slow."

Irish Independent

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