Efforts to meet housing demand delayed by '20th century planning system'

ireland
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James Cox

There is an 'urgent' need to establish an online planning system according to the Irish Home Builders Association (IHBA).

It has published a new report with a set of recommendations that it claims will improve the planning structure.

Among them is to introduce 'viability testing' so developers aren't forced to start the process, and then find their project isn't workable.

The report, Planning Reform Necessary to Expedite the Delivery of Housing, calls for:

Key recommendations to expedite delivery:

  • Urgently establish an electronic planning system to speed up and promote greater participation in the planning process.
  • Examine the potential for the greater use of Outline Planning Permissions to help define strategic design and planning issues at the outset, rather than at the end, in order to reduce costs.
  • Introduce the concept of ‘viability testing’ on all plans to ensure equitable weighting to market requirements.
  • Conduct a thorough root and branch review of the planning system as committed to in 2017.

Remove barriers for speedy delivery of homes:

  • Introduce a more equitable treatment of vacant site levies nationally which reflect the reasons why there might be delays progressing on a site.
  • Local Authorities should provide a schedule of all zoned lands to identify any barriers to delivery of homes.
  • Remove Irish Water bureaucracy as an impediment to commencing development on sites.
  • Ensure adequate resources are deployed at local authority and An Bord Pleanála level to avoid delays.

Review of planning and design standards/guidelines: (longer-term to open debate on improving, streamlining standards):

  • Ensure Ministerial Guidelines are fit for purpose in 2021 to ensure design standards can be streamlined to reduce costs and maximise space available for development.
  • Facilitate an open debate on house design standards which are in line with international best practice regarding public and private open spaces and separation distances.

Launching the report, James Benson, director with the IHBA, said: “It is agreed that Ireland needs on average between 33,000-36,000 new homes across all tenure types delivered annually for the next two decades. But we are trying to meet the demands of the 21st Century with a 20th century planning system.

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“The result is unnecessary delays to homebuilding up and down the country. This landmark report identifies the need for certainty and speed in the delivery of viable housing schemes, while respecting the importance of the planning process. We have identified practical, achievable solutions to improve the planning system in Ireland and help meet our common goals of much needed new homes in Ireland.”

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