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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