Tuesday 15 October 2019

Planning board missed time-limit target in more than half of cases

An Bord Pleanála chairman Dave Walsh. Picture: Mark Condren
An Bord Pleanála chairman Dave Walsh. Picture: Mark Condren
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The State's planning appeals authority missed the 18-week target for decisions in more than half of cases in the midst of the housing crisis, the Dáil's spending watchdog will be told.

Senior officials from An Bord Pleanála (ABP) will appear before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today. Its chairman, Dave Walsh, is expected to tell TDs that ABP had a compliance rate of only 43pc in terms of meeting its 18-week target for deciding normal planning appeals that year.

He will blame the transition to a new case management system and the fallout from reduced board capacity in 2017 and say: "We have made strong progress to turn things around in recent months."

There was a 32pc increase in the number of cases decided in 2018, with more than 2,800 decisions made.

Mr Walsh is to admit that the compliance rate with the 18-week target is "not where we want it to be" but he said there is a plan in 2019 to "clear the backlog and get back to a compliance rate of 70pc to 80pc" by the end of the year.

In his opening statement, he will say "things are going well" and in August the average decision time stood at 19.5 weeks, down from 22.5 in 2018.

Mr Walsh will say that the board's performance in relation to large strategic housing developments has been "very strong".

Thirty-nine cases decided came within the 16-week target for these types of developments in 2018. Last year permission was granted to 27 applications for more than 7,100 housing units and 4,500 student bed spaces.

This is said to have been a "vital contribution to the overall increase in residential activity".

Irish Independent

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