THE 40,000 hectares of land zoned for residential development across the country will be reduced to 12,000 hectares over six years, Minister of State for planning Ciarán Cuffe said.
Mr Cuffe was speaking after the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill passed its final stage in the Seanad yesterday by 27 votes to 20.
He said the enactment of new planning laws would ensure that the right types of development were built in the right places at the right time.
“While there are around 40,000 hectares of land currently zoned for residential development across the country, the actual needs, even allowing for generous head room, over the next six years is for about 12,000 hectares,” he said
“The provisions in the new legislation are designed to address this excess to deliver more compact, walkable and integrated communities with the necessary infrastructure and services.”
Under the legislation, local authorities will be required to review development plans and ensure correct levels of land are available for residential development. Staff at the Department of the Environment will begin work this summer on implementing the new measures.
“At the heart of these new planning laws is a simple idea and that is to put the interests of our citizens ahead of any one interest group, be they property developers or landowners,” said Mr Cuffe.
He said over-zoning and bad planning had played a large role in creating the so-called property bubble, adding: “This legislation aims to ensure that these practices become a thing of the past.”
In a tweet, Mr Cuffe’s party colleague Senator Dan Boyle described the legislation as the “most significant piece of Green legislation in this session”.
Earlier this year, some Fianna Fáil backbenchers expressed concerns about elements of the legislation, but Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward last night said he had received assurances it would “have no adverse effect”.
Fianna Fáil Senator Brian O’Domhnaill said he welcomed a provision in the legislation “that allows for a further extension of five years to live planning permission applications”.
He said this would provide “breathing space” for people who had achieved planning permission but, perhaps for financial reasons, were not yet in a position to start building their homes.