Tuesday 12 November 2019

Red tape means 'fast-tracked' homes now face two-year delays

Scheme under review: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Scheme under review: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Caroline O'Doherty

Red tape is causing delays of up to two years in getting 'fast-tracked' housing developments under construction.

Property industry experts say while the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme speeds up planning approval for projects, it does not reduce barriers to commencing work.

More than 16,000 homes and 7,600 student units have won permission under the scheme, which allows developments of at least 100 homes or 200 student units to bypass council planners and go straight to An Bord Pleanála (ABP).

But while the scheme is more than two years old and was intended to get more housing built faster, work has yet to begin on around two-thirds of the approved homes.

The Irish Planning Institute (IPI) will tell the Oireachtas Housing Committee today: "The post-permission period is increasingly more complex."

While ABP handles the planning application, councils have to issue compliance certificates and IPI president Joe Corr said they were not resourced to handle the job.

He will tell the committee that the planning board could handle compliance if necessary. He also says the IPI is concerned about the scheme being used for speculation.

"Our membership is anxious to avoid a scenario where planning permissions granted under the SHD process will be used by developers or speculators to increase the value of land rather than the delivery of housing," he says.

Property Industry Ireland (PIP), which represents firms in the building, financing and sale of property, is also raising the question of resource issues in councils, saying it can take six months for a first response to a compliance certificate submission.

Other hold-ups, including agreements on social housing provision and getting water connections sorted out can add to delays of up to two years.

The SHD scheme is being reviewed by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who is expected shortly to announce its extension for another two years but with some changes to procedures.

PIP is asking the minister to make the process optional for developers and to lift the restriction on commercial use units in SHD developments.

Currently, 15pc of total floor space can be allocated for non-residential use.

Irish Independent

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