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.
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