Half of planning applications for housing developments granted by end of 2018

By Marita Moloney

27 housing developments were granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála by the end of 2018, according to its 2018 casework review.

Between July 2017 and the end of December 2018, An Bord Pleanála received 52 valid applications for strategic housing developments.

New legislation implemented in July 2017 provided that planning applications for housing developments of more than 100 residential units and over 200 student bed spaces would be made directly to the authority.

39 applications for such developments, which are referred to as strategic housing, were decided on time by An Bord Pleanála by the end of 2018, and 27 of these were granted permission.

This amounts to 7,102 housing units, 3,284 houses and 3,818 apartments, and 4,479 student bed-spaces.

The mandatory 16-week timeline to decide on applications was met for all decisions issues, the board said, with 21 applications due for decision in the next three to four months.

"An Bord Pleanála’s performance in relation to Strategic Housing Developments has been very strong, with 39 cases decided during 2018, all well within the 16-week target," said Dave Walsh, Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála.

"We expect a significant increase in housing applications in 2019, and we will continue to prioritise these cases and deal with any large-scale housing appeals expeditiously.”

In 2018, there was a 6% increase in the number of cases taken on, while a total of 2,829 decided which marked a 32% rise on 2017.

Of those cases taken on last year, almost three-quarters comprised of planning appeals.

An Bord Pleanála has a statutory objective to decide on these appeals within an 18-week period, yet this was only met in just over a third (38%) of cases.

In 2017, 64% of appeals were decided on within the timeframe.

Mr Walsh said the board's ability to meet the 18-week time limit had been affected by its transition to a new IT system, an increase in the number of cases and a reduced Board capacity.

He said they had "made strong progress to turn things around in recent months", as well as adding more people to the Board which now stands at 10 members.

The board has set a target of deciding on over 80% of appeals within the 18-week time limit by the final quarter of this year.

In January 2007, legislation came into effect which provided that applications for strategic infrastructure developments would be made directly through An Bord Pleanála.

These types of developments usually concern major energy, transport, environmental and health infrastructure.

14 such cases were decided on last year, with the board reaching a decision within the statutory 18-week time period in just 36% of cases.

Mr Walsh said they would be conducting a review of their processes "to learn and apply lessons from our own and participants’ experiences in the

past and to identify ways to further streamline and ensure that we are operating as efficiently as possible to facilitate robust and swift decisions”.

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