Monday 11 December 2023

Despite all the negative commentary on planning - housing permissions are growing fast

 According to the CSO, there has been an over 40% increase in number of homes granted planning permission. Many people in Ireland hold the view that planning is now dysfunctional and is no longer delivering. This is not the case. The system is in fact overwhelmed with resourcing failing to meet growing planning application demands from a rapidly expanding population which is wealthier than it has ever been. More statutory planners are needed and An Bord Pleanála must be better resourced. had this story in the past few days:

"There was a 43 per cent increase in the number of homes granted planning permission in the third quarter of 2023, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show. The number of dwelling units granted planning permission in Q3 saw 4,859 houses and 4,803 apartments. The number of houses granted planning permission rose by more than 10 per cent when compared with Q3 2022, while apartment approvals more than doubled. Between January and September 2023, there was an overall growth of 13 per cent in the total number of dwelling units approved when compared with the same period in 2022. However, in Q3 2023 there was an annual fall of more than 25 per cent in the number of one-off houses receiving planning permission, compared with an annual decline of 36 per cent in Q2 2023. Across the four local authorities of Dublin, planning permission was granted for 3,077 apartments in Q3 2023, accounting for 64 per cent of all apartments granted planning permission in the state this quarter".

Read the full article @

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Ireland’s ‘broken’ planning system: developer says builders exposed to excessive risk

 This article sets out the argument that developers are placed at excessive risk by the Irish planning system as currently devised. The view of many would be that the significant departure made since 2015 from 'rules based planning' system towards a more 'suck it and see' type planning system is the problem. It would suit all parties for development plans to be much more specific as to what is allowed where, etc. The national statutory "guidance" documents aimed at de-regulating planning (no height rules, almost no density rules, no minimum car parking rules, movable open space standards, etc.) have served to make the planning process more risky. Perhaps the Department and the Office of the Planning Regulator could work together to move the planning system to a less risky system over the coming years. The red herring of judicial review is not the issue. Judicial reviews arose from the removal of a right to appeal decisions which, for the most part, significantly materially contravened development plans in which communities had, up to around 2015, trusted.

In the current system, we, planning consultants, are asked what we think might be achievable on a site. Why is this something that cannot just be look up on the development plan and its maps? Why is the range so wide? Because we have created casino planning. In this environment, every planning application is forced to "take a chance". Planning consultants are forced to argue in many cases for schemes which prior to 2015 would not ever have passed pre-planning stage and local authority and An Bord Pleanála planners are required to play along. Almost every case ends up at An Bord Pleanála because of systemic problems.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"A developer whose plans for new student housing were quashed twice, after more than five years of bureaucracy and judicial reviews, says he has no confidence in the planning system. 

John Hickie, an investment director at Cloncaragh Investments, said the planning system is broken and questioned the operation of the judicial review process".

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

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Irish Times opinion on the planning controversy around cynical objectors

 The Irish Times has set out its view on the latest planning controversy around a small number of cynical objector's mis-using the planning process. The opinion notes how speed of decision making is vital and these cynical objections are slowing the process down. The following is an excerpt from the opinion:
"The planning system performs an important function. It should lead to pleasant and appropriate built environments. It ensures that structures are not built where they shouldn’t be and that they conform to the relevant legislation and regulation. And that someone who feels they will be detrimentally affected can make their case. It is also cumbersome and lengthy. There are several reasons for this: the sheer number of proposed developments; the limited capacity of the system; structural problems at An Bord Pleanála; and finally the delays associated with taking any legal action that might ensue. The result is the creation of opportunities for arbitrage, as outlined in a recent RTÉ PrimeTime programme and reports in its wake. These focus on allegations of one particularly egregious practice that capitalises on delays in the hearing of appeals by An Bord Pleanála".
Read the full article @ The Irish Times
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The EPA has ruled that a Wexford pig farm does not require an industrial emissions license

For those following the Killnick pig farm case, there was a development yesterday. As many people will know, pig farms are challenging because of the odours they create which grow as the farm expands and/or intensifies. There are many watching this case.

The Irish Independent noted yesterday how:

"A High Court case taken the operator of a farm in Killnick, which was convicted under the Air Pollution Act last year, has been adjourned until February of next year. Following a ruling by An Bord Pleanála in April of this year that the pig farm was in breach of planning regulations, Premier Pigs Ltd, the operator of the farm, took the decision to challenge that ruling. However, after a hearing on Monday last (November 20) the case has been pushed back until February 2024".

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent
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Planning and Environment division of High Court opens today "to improve delivery of housing"

 The Irish Independent takes a different approach to explaining the new Planning and Environment division of High Court with the argument made that this has been established primarily to improve delivery of housing. Those involved in planning would argue, however, that it is needed to address the increasingly complicated nature of planning and environmental law.

Here's an excerpt from the article.

"A new division of the High Court dedicated to Planning and Environmental cases will be formally established today. 

The new division, with three specialist judges, was approved by Cabinet last month and will enable more efficient management of cases dealing with planning and environmental matters, in particular judicial reviews. A ceremonial first sitting will be held this morning to mark its full establishment as a High Court Division. The division was established by the Department of Justice in partnership with the Courts Service and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Cases will now be heard by the three judges assigned to the new Court Division which will deal with proceedings such as strategic infrastructure and commercial planning matters and decisions involving EU and national environmental and planning legislation".

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent

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Plans lodged to build 95 new homes in Arklow

Growing numbers of housing estate planning applications in County Wicklow. Pressures grow on existing infrastructure including the Arklow to Dublin rail line. Article this week in the Wicklow People.

"A new plan to build 95 homes in Arklow has been lodged with Wicklow County Council’s planning department. The planning application from Russelstown Property Development Ltd seeks permission to construct 71 semi-detached and terrace houses with two, three and four bedrooms, together with 24 apartments in six blocks and a creche at a site on Ballyraine Upper. The proposed development also includes the provision of open spaces, roads, footpaths, connection to services and all associated ancillary site development works. The site consists of 4.12 hectares adjacent to the M11 motorway,. The site is bonded to the north by the Woodlands Park Road, which has no immediate relevance to the proposed development other than there will be a pedestrian access to the estate".

Read the full article @ The Wicklow People
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New planning and environmental court to be operational from today

 A new planning and environmental court to be operational from today. If you have any questions, please contact BPS to discuss. The Irish Times has set out an article which explains the new court.
"A new planning and environment court will be formally launched at a ceremony in the High Court on Monday. The Attorney General, Rossa Fanning; the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee; and the president of the High Court, Mr Justice David Barniville will be among those attending the ceremony. When the establishment of the new court was approved by Cabinet a year ago, Minister McEntee said, along with reforms to planning legislation, the court would improve case processing and reduce costs, consistent with Ireland’s obligations under EU environmental law. “Planning and environmental judicial review cases are a notable feature of Ireland’s planning and statutory consenting processes,” she said. “The ability to deal with these cases efficiently and effectively is critical to the State’s delivery of housing and infrastructure, and in protecting the environment.”
Read the full article at The Irish Times
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Dublin pedestrianisation plans to be reassessed following city riots

 Interesting planning article from the Irish Tines regarding the need to alter plans for the city in light of the riots.
"The full 24/7 pedestrianisation of Dublin’s new civic spaces is being reconsidered by Dublin City Council following the recent riots in the city centre, it has emerged. The council is to examine whether some traffic, possibly taxis, will be allowed into pedestrian and cycle zones at night, in areas such as the planned College Green plaza to maintain “passive surveillance” and guard against leaving large empty spaces in the centre of the city in the evening. Concerns about the use, and potential for misuse, of new public spaces were raised with the council’s head of traffic Brendan O’Brien at a briefing for Dublin Chamber of Commerce on the proposed new Dublin City Centre Transport Plan in recent days. Under the plan road space would be reallocated from private cars to buses, cyclists and pedestrians".
Read the full article @ The Irish Times
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Sunday 15 October 2023

Challenge to proposed Dalkey nursing home must be made in respondents presence, court rules

 A High Court judge has directed that a challenge brought by several Dalkey residents, including broadcaster Pat Kenny, against the granting of planning permission for a nursing home in the South Dublin suburb should be made on notice to the other parties involved in the action. Mr Kenny, along with Christopher Herbert, Tom Palmer and Peter Cullen, have brought judicial review proceedings over An Bord Pleanála's decision of July 6th to grant Bartra Property Ltd permission to construct a 104-bed nursing home on lands at Ulverton Roadd and Harbour Road in Dalkey. In their proceedings, the plaintiffs, who live near the proposed five-story development, seek various orders and declarations, including an order setting aside the board's decision which they say is flawed. Among the grounds of their challenge is that the proposed nursing home will adversely impact on badgers living on the lands. The proceedings came before Mr Justice Liam Kennedy during Tuesday's vacation sitting of the High Court. The judge was asked, on an ex-parte basis, to grant the applicants permission to bring their challenge against the board's decision. After considering submissions by Alan Doyle Bl, instructed by solicitor Fred Logue for the residents, the judge directed that the application for permission to bring the challenge should be heard on notice to, or in the presence of, the other parties. As well as suing the board, the residents' action is against the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Ireland and the Attorney General.

Read the full article @

Government defends changes to judicial reviews of planning decisions

 The Government is defending changes to how judicial reviews can be brought against planning applications, under extensive reforms of the country's planning laws. The Planning and Development Bill, brought forward by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, received Cabinet approval on Tuesday after taking over two years to draft. The bill itself, the third-largest in the history of the State at 691 pages, will reform how Ireland’s planning system operates, with reforms at An Bord Pleanála, changes to local development plans, and restrictions on judicial reviews all contained within. Mr O’Brien described the bill as a “very significant change that will last the next 20, 25 years”. The bill will change the manner in which judicial reviews can be brought by members of the public against planning decisions. In particular, it will introduce restraints on residents' associations bringing forward judicial reviews, unless they have a constitution and vote two-thirds in favour of taking a case to court. Any applicants for judicial reviews, barring environmental NGOs, will also need to have “exhausted any available appeal procedures” before they can take a court case against a planning decision.

Read the full article @ Irish Examiner 

IHREC calls for changes to planning bill

 The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has called for changes to a proposed bill on planning in relation to accommodation for the Travelling community. In a statement, the commission said that the State “continues to fail” in the provision of accommodation to the Traveller community, describing the current system as “incoherent and inadequate”. In a submission on the Planning and Development Bill 2022, the human-rights body calls for an amendment to put Traveller-specific accommodation in an exceptional category. It points out that the vast majority of Traveller-specific accommodation is currently delivered through part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, “ostensibly to assist public debate and scrutiny”. “However, this often gives rise to significant challenges in terms of providing Traveller-specific accommodation, often due to local opposition and the consequent politicisation of the process,” the commission says. Its proposed amendment would mean that Traveller accommodation would not be exempted from the need to be approved by An Coimisiùn Pleanála and could, therefore, be removed from the part 8 process.

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Planning bill makes changes on JR process

 The Government has approved a new bill to reform the planning system that is being described as the third-largest bill in the State’s history. The Department of Housing said that the proposed legislation would bring “greater clarity, certainty and consistency” to how planning decisions were made, and would make the system more coherent and user-friendly. The Government says that it will take “a number of weeks” to prepare the Planning and Development Bill 2023 for publication, due to its size.  It contains a number of changes from the draft bill that was published earlier this year. These include more detail on statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes – including An Bord Pleanála (ABP) decisions. The key time periods will range from 18 weeks for appeals of decisions of planning authorities to 48 weeks for strategic infrastructure developments. These will be introduced on a phased basis. The headline period for planning authorities to make decisions will remain at eight weeks, with an additional four weeks allowed for applications that require an environmental assessment.

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Council gives green light for revamp of protected structure building on O'Connell Street

 DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has given the green light to Hammerson plc’s latest phase of its planned €500 million transformation plan for Dublin city centre. The development is opposed by some politicians including Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams. The Council has granted planning permission to Hammerson-owned Dublin Central GP Ltd for the revamp of a protected structure – 61 O’Connell Street Upper – that comprises the conservation, repair, refurbishment and adaptive reuse of the existing four storey commercial building. The scheme is to include two licensed restaurant/cafe units with takeaway/collection facilities, three two-bed apartments and a gym/leisure studio at basement level. The Council has granted planning permission after concluding that the proposal would be in accordance with Development Plan policy which support bringing upper floors into use, reducing vacancy and rehabilitating and re-using existing older buildings. The Council concluded that the proposed development is unlikely to have a negative impact on the amenities of adjoining properties.

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Number of homes granted planning permission drops by 23pc in second quarter

 The number of homes granted planning permission dropped by 23pc in the second quarter of 2023, new statistics show. However, officials cautioned that planning permission figures can fluctuate significantly between quarters and this is not necessarily indicative of a longer trend. Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show permission was granted for 8,723 properties in the second quarter of 2023, compared with 11,374 during the same period in 2022. The number of houses granted planning permission fell by 18pc on an annual basis to 3,702 housing units, while apartment approvals were down by 27pc to 5,021 units. Despite the drop, apartments still accounted for the majority of new planning permissions. This was almost entirely centred on Dublin, where the four local authorities in the capital granted permission for 3,351 apartments in the second quarter of the year. Permission was granted for 424 new houses in the capital over the same period.

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent
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Landmark planning legislation may not be passed by Oireachtas until 2024

 The chair of the Oireachtas housing committee has indicated he is reserving judgment on landmark planning legislation approved by the Cabinet, warning against any potential “watering down” of citizen’s rights in the final version. The planning and development bill has not yet been published, with Green Party TD Steven Matthews saying on Tuesday that the “devil is in the detail”. Mr Matthews’ committee conducted extensive pre-legislative scrutiny on the draft bill earlier this year, making 153 recommendations in its final report. While he indicated that an outline of the bill published by the Government suggested many of the recommendations had been adopted, he added: “The devil’s in the detail – there’s a difference between the guide and what’s written down in the legislation.” The final bill is expected in the next two weeks, with focus likely to come on whether access to judicial review has been curtailed, a key bone of contention for some backbench greens and environmental groups.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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New planning law to speed up developments will be passed by Christmas, says O’Brien

 A controversial Bill addressing systemic problems in the planning process and long delays in the completion times of developments will be enacted by Christmas, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said. The Planning and Development Bill runs to over 750 pages and is the third largest piece of legislation to be published in the history of the State. It includes a number of changes designed to accelerate building during the housing crisis, including fines for breaches of mandatory planning deadlines, and placing new limits related to the standing of parties to take court cases. The draft Bill extends the duration of a development plan from six years to 10 years, with a further two-year extension in exceptional circumstances. It will also provide for a new Coimisiún Pleanála to replace An Bord Pleanála.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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Friday 14 July 2023

Cairn gets permission for 608 apartments at former RTÉ lands but tower refused

 An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to Cairn Homes for a €345 million, 608-unit apartment scheme on former RTÉ lands at Donnybrook in Dublin 4. However, in a split decision the appeals board has refused permission for the 16-storey tower component of the scheme that was to include a 192-bedroom hotel and 80 apartments. The appeals board inspector Rónán O’Connor in the case had recommended that permission be granted for the entire development comprising 688 apartments and the hotel. However, the board order has explained that the proposed landmark building was located within an area not specifically designated for landmark/tall buildings, where there is a general presumption against such buildings. In relation to the specific siting and design of the 16-storey high tower, the board did not consider that the design proposed provides a compelling architectural and urban design rationale that would facilitate the consideration of exceptional circumstances.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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More than 100,000 planning permissions lay dormant at end-2022, including 50,000 in Dublin

 There were more than 100,000 dormant or non-activated planning permissions for homes in the State at the end of last year, more than 50,000 of which were in Dublin, a new study by the Department of Finance has found. The report, published as part of the department’s Economic Insights series, blamed the high number of uncommenced permissions on the “viability challenges” facing high-density developments or apartment schemes. The viability of these developments was being challenged by a combination of issues from input cost inflation, rising interest rates and “the prevalence of judicial reviews”, it said. The finding comes amid criticism of the State’s complex planning system and the high number of legal challenges it allows.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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Supreme Court to consider when developer can defend permission An Bord Pleanála no longer backs

The Supreme Court will consider the circumstances in which it is appropriate for a property developer to defend in court a planning permission An Bord Pleanála has decided should be quashed. The issue arises in a community group’s appeal against the High Court’s decision to allow Ardstone Homes Limited to step in to defend approval it received for the development of 241 apartments near the Dublin Mountains. The board, which was the respondent in the case, indicated in May 2022 that it would not oppose Ballyboden Tidy Town Group’s pursuit of an order overturning the July 2021 permission for the strategic housing scheme in Woodstown, Dublin.
Read the full article @ The Irish Times
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Wednesday 7 June 2023

Goldman Sachs to sell Blanchardstown shopping centre

 Goldman Sachs is reported to have appointed real estate investment bank Eastdil Secured and CBRE to find a buyer for Blanchardstown Centre. The shopping centre is expected to have a guide price of between €650m to €725, according to a story first reported by the Irish Times. Blanchardstown Centre, which spans around 112,000 sq m, has 180 stores. Anchor tenants include Penneys and Marks & Spencer. Last month, Nike also opened a new concept store at the centre.Goldman Sachs acquired the shopping centre, as well as two adjacent retail parks, external retail units and a five-storey office block, in December 2020 in a deal worth €750m. At the time, it described the centre as an “excellent asset in a prime location with a very strong mix of high-quality retailers.”

Read the full article @ The Irish Independent 

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Developer seeks permission for almost 200 apartments on site of old bakery in Phibsborough

 A DEVELOPER HAS sought planning permission to build almost 200 apartments in buildings up to 12 storeys in height on the site of an old bakery in Phibsborough, Co. Dublin, after a previous decision was quashed by the High Court. Bindford Limited has submitted a Large-scale Residential Development (LRD) application to Dublin City Council to build 196 apartments. This will include 118 build-to-sell apartments and 78 build-to-rent apartments at 113 Phibsborough Road, which is also known as the Old Bakery Site. The build-to-sell apartments will include 58 one-bed and 60 two-bed apartments. The build-to-rent will be made up of 52 studio, 22 one-bed and four two-bed apartments. The proposed development will be located at Cross Guns Bridge along the Royal Canal. The development will include the demolition of the existing buildings on the site which are connected with the old bakery and have been derelict for over 35 years, and replacing them with three apartment blocks.

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Dodder greenway construction plans divide pedestrians and cyclists

 At a time when the State is pumping tens of millions of euro into the construction of greenways for cyclists and walkers, one of the most challenging projects is dividing opinion. The Dodder Greenway, already many years in the planning, will run 17km from the Bohernabreena Reservoirs in the Dublin Mountains down to the Grand Canal docks in Dublin along the Dodder river on the southside of Dublin. Of all the pedestrian and cycle routes being constructed in the country from a Government budget of almost €300 million for walking and cycling infrastructure, the €22 million Dodder Greenway passes through the largest population catchment area and is turning out to be one of the most complicated to plan.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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Circular PL 02/2022 - Planning and Development Act (Exempted Development) Regulations 2022 (S.I. 75 of 2022)

 The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2018 - S.I. No. 30 of 2018 - which came into operation on 8 February 2018, provided for an exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of the change of use of certain vacant commercial premises, including vacant areas above ground floor premises, to residential use. The regulations are primarily aimed at facilitating the productive re-use of qualifying vacant commercial buildings as homes, while also facilitating urban renewal and the bringing on stream of increased housing supply. 

Planning and Development Act (Exempted Development) Regulations 2022 (S.I. 75 of 2022).

The Planning and Development Act (Exempted Development) Regulations 2022 (S.I. 75 of 2022) extends to 31 December 2025 the exemption given by SI 30 of 2018 and satisfies the commitment given by action 20.3 of Housing for All. In order to avail of the exemptions being provided for, the structure, or part of the structure, which is the subject of the change of use must have been vacant for at least 2 years immediately prior to the commencement of the relevant works, with such works being required to be completed by 31 December 2025.

In addition to the classes of use that qualified under the 2018 change of use exempted development provisions – i.e. Classes 1, 2, 3 and 6 – as outlined in Part 4 of Schedule 2 of the Principal Regulations, the new regulations extend the provisions to a new Class 12 - Use as a Public House, meaning a premises which has been licensed for the sale and consumption of intoxicating liquor on the premises under the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2018. The conditions and limitations that applied to the 2018 exempted development provisions, as outlined in previous Circular Letter PL 01/2018, will continue to apply under these regulations which include: 

- Related works shall primarily affect the interior of the building, with limited external works being permitted which are in keeping with the building and neighbouring buildings, including the provision of on-street access to upper floors, and alterations to existing ground floor shop fronts in respect of window and architectural details. 

- Works to the ground floor of any structure shall not conflict with an objective in a development plan for the structure to remain in retail use, with the exception, as mentioned above, of works solely for the provision of on-street access to upper floors. 

- No more than 9 individual residential units can be provided in a building. 

- Minimum standards shall apply to residential units being developed such as minimum requirements in relation to overall floor areas, storage space requirements and the need for adequate natural light in living rooms and bedrooms (see the “Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments - Guidelines for Planning Authorities”). 

- Works to a protected structure shall not be permitted unless a section 57 declaration has been issued by a planning authority to indicate the works will not affect the character or elements of the structure which has been identified for protection. 

- Works for the provision of on-site wastewater treatment and disposal systems i.e. septic tanks, shall not be permitted under the exemption. 

- Works shall not be permitted in a number of limited areas, such as areas of special planning control, areas to which special amenity area orders relate and within certain proximity distances of establishments to which the major accident regulations apply. 

- Care should be taken to ensure compliance with relevant legislative requirements in relation to the assessment of potential impacts on bats, their roosts and nesting birds arising from any proposed works in relevant buildings. 

A number of other general restrictions as set out in Article 9 of the Principal Regulations are identified as applying to this exemption. In addition, development must not contravene a condition attached to a permission issued under the Act, including any condition specifying the permitted use of the building concerned.

Notification Requirement 

As has applied since the introduction of the 2018 regulations, a planning authority must be notified in writing of the details of the development at least 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the proposed change of use, and related works, and the notification must include information on the location and details of residential units being developed. The new regulations further require that the notification must include the Eircode for the relevant property. A planning authority remains required to: 

- maintain a record of any notifications received, 

- make the record publicly available online and at their office, and

- submit annual returns to the Minister detailing the notifications received.

A link is provided here to the new regulations. 

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Wicklow County Council refuses €40m hotel plan at Magheramore Beach

 Wicklow County Council has refused planning permission for Creatively Pacific’s €40 million boutique holiday resort and surf school on the 21 acres of land above Magheramore Beach in Wicklow. The Council outlined seven reasons for its refusal, these included the failure of the applicant to demonstrate that the development would not adversely affect the Magherabeg Dunes, which are a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), given the potential number of visitors it would attract. The council also pointed to the “visual impact” the development would have on what is an “unspoilt location”. The Ecological Impact Assessment was also referred to by the Council, which said it failed to demonstrate the development would not have an impact “on locally important natural habitats, species, or wildlife corridors”.

Read the full article @ The Wicklow People

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Wednesday 22 March 2023

Dublin Port Company reveals plans for new bridge across river Liffey

 DUBLIN PORT HAS revealed plans for a new bridge across the river Liffey for lorries and a potential future Luas line. The proposed bridge is part of Dublin Port Company’s plan to redevelop the south port area, known as the Poolbeg Peninsula, which contains nearly one-fifth of the Dublin Port estate.  The plans are known as the 3FM Project.  Under the plans, Dublin Port Company will construct a new 2.2km Southern Port Access Route (SPAR) and with a 190m bridge across the Liffey adjacent to the existing Tom Clarke Bridge and running parallel to the East Link Toll Road.  A 45m section of the bridge would be capable of lifting upwards. It is envisaged that HGVs and utility vehicles will be taken off other public roads and onto SPAR, and that pedestrians, cyclists and other public transport users will “benefit from a safer, less congested route for active travel across the city".

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Planning permissions sink 43% at end of 2022 - CSO

 The number of planning permission applications granted for houses and apartments fell sharply in the final quarter of last year, according to the Central Statistics Office. Total applications granted for all dwelling types were down 43.5% at 7,597 in the final three months of last year compared to 13,450 in the same period in 2021. The CSO says that changes in the application process for Strategic Housing Developments (SHDs) and "related issues in An Board Pleanála" may have affected the number of planning permissions granted. It also notes there is currently a backlog of applications for SHDs.

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Planning application for north Dublin data centre withdrawn

 The firm behind plans for a two-storey data centre in north Dublin has withdrawn its planning application. The applicants, SDC Piperstown II Ltd, have written to Fingal County Council to withdraw the application for the centre. It was to be built on a 20-acre site in the townlands of Kilshane and Bay, on lands to the north of Bay Lane at Piperstown, Dublin 11. The proposal also included an energy centre building onsite that was to provide electricity for the centre, with potential to supply electricity to the national grid when needed.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029

 Publication of the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 sets out the policies and objectives for the development of the City over the plan period. The plan has been prepared in accordance with the steps set out in the Planning and Development Acts. The Elected Members of Galway City Council adopted the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 at the Full Council Meeting held on Thursday, 24th November 2022, and it came into effect from Wednesday, 4th January 2023. This is a six-year development plan for the City, and it is expected to remain in force (subject to any interim variations that the Council may make) until 2029.

The Development Plan is a Local Authority’s main policy document in relation to planning. The Development Plan consists of a written statement which sets out the policies for the city, and maps which show land use zonings for different types of development, such as residential, commercial, and industrial. The plan sets out the overall core strategy and specific objectives for the proper planning and sustainable development of Galway City.

The Draft Direction by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to Galway City Council as regards the making of the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 was released on the 20th of January 2023 and is open for submission until 4 pm on the Friday, 3rd February 2023. Written submissions or observations regarding the Draft Direction may be made to the Planning Authority during the consultation period. The Office of the Planning Regulator shall consider these before it makes a recommendation to the Minister on the matter.

The Draft Direction issued by the Minister is available to view online.

It is also available for inspection at the Planning Department, Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway, H91 X4K8, during opening hours: 9 am-4 pm, Monday to Friday.

Publication of Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022

 The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, the Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Kieran O’Donnell, and the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, have welcomed the publication of the Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022.

The Bill, if enacted, will bring greater clarity, consistency and certainty to how planning decisions are made. It will make the planning system more coherent and user-friendly for the public and planning practitioners.

The summary of the main provisions in the Draft Bill is as follows:

  • Strengthened legal status for Ministerial guidelines: Ministerial guidelines and policy directives will be upgraded to ‘National Planning Policy Statements’ and ‘National Planning Policy Guidance’.
  • Amended focus and lifespan of Local Development Plans: these will be extended from six to ten years, with a review after year five.
  • Local Area Plans will be replaced by specific types of area-based plans to meet particular needs, for example, Urban Area Plans, Priority Area Plans, Joint Area Plans, Strategic Development Zones/Urban Development Zones.
  • Statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes, including An Bord Pleanála decisions, to bring certainty to the planning consent process. Where An Bord Pleanála fails to make decisions within these timelines, it will be subject to fines. The exact timelines will be included in the finalised Bill.
  • Changes to Judicial Reviews (JRs) of planning decisions, including timelines for various steps in the JR process. An Bord Pleanála will be able to correct an error of fact or law in a planning decision and will be able to apply for a stay on the determination of JR proceedings whilst making such corrections.
  • A re-structuring of An Bord Pleanála will be re-named An Coimisiún Pleanála, and its decision-making and governance structures will be separated.
  • Clearer distinction between different categories of consents, such as Standard Planning Application, Applications made directly to An Bord Pleanála, Alterations, extensions and revocations of permissions and local authority and State authority developments.
  • Costs protection in JR cases: costs protection for judicial review cases, providing that there will not be any order for costs in any such proceedings unless the Court considers that the proceedings are frivolous or vexatious or an abuse of process.
  • Increased clarity regarding environment assessments in the planning process: greater integration of the scope and role of environmental assessments into plan-making functions and the consenting process.
Increased capacity for local authorities to utilise Compulsory Purchase Orders in pursuance of their functions, for example, to acquire vacant or derelict properties for onward sale, for example, to develop for residential use.

Minister O’Brien has formally requested pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Bill by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This will commence over the coming weeks before proceeding before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Exclusion of public from planning process under new bill 'unacceptable', Dáil told

 Ireland’s new planning laws will be a “once-in-a-generation" piece of legislation that will “impact every soul on this island”, an Oireachtas committee has heard. Attracta Uí Bhroin, the environmental law office of the Irish Environmental Network, said it was “unacceptable” that the public could face increased exclusion from the planning process on foot of this new mammoth piece of legislation. Both she and Phoebe Duvall of An Taisce urged the Oireachtas housing committee to back a public consultation into the Government’s proposed Planning and Development Bill prior to it being finalised and enacted. The committee is currently conducting pre-legislative scrutiny of the Government’s landmark bill aimed at overhauling planning laws in this country.

Read the full article @ The Irish Examiner

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Planning Bill would cause ‘erosion of environmental democracy’, Dáil committee hears

 The draft planning and development Bill would cause “conflict, dysfunction and delay” and an the “erosion of environmental democracy”, environmental groups have told an Oireachtas committee. The Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022 is intended to reduce the number of judicial reviews, which have been blamed for slowing down development of housing and other infrastructure. However, the Irish Environmental Network (IEN), which includes groups such as An Taisce, Friends of the Irish Environment and BirdWatch Ireland, said the legislation would make it more difficult to hold public authorities to account and would result in a greater risk of legal action.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

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Thursday 9 February 2023

Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022

For those asking me in recent days for the link to the Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022, please find this below.