Number of Local Area Plans in place nationwide has fallen from 267 to 149 since 2010
Data compiled by Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has revealed a significant reduction in the number of Local Area Plans in operation throughout Ireland. There are now almost 120 fewer areas without a localised blueprint now than 8 years ago.
Local Area Plans (LAPs) set out a distinct vision for villages and towns to expand and develop over a six year period. They are the foundation of the planning system and offer residents an opportunity to specify a vision for the future of their community.
O’Brien said, “What I’ve discovered is that at least 118 areas that previously had a Local Area Plan in place are now without a distinct, bespoke plan for their region and must rely on the high level county development.
“That essentially means that instead of developing more targeted approaches to local problems we are becoming more reliant on high level plans.
“At a time when we need more coherent local planning that invests in the future we risk losing that focus. The decline in Local Area Plans also exposes issues with resourcing in local authorities nationwide.
“We need to ensure they are fully equipped to carry out their jobs, foremost as planning authorities. We cannot allow a situation where best practise is abandoned has it appears to have been in this case” Deputy O’Brien concluded.
-Levy will raise just €9m in 2019-
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien TD has said that there are serious shortcomings with the Government’s vacant site levy. Deputy O’Brien was commenting as new figures received by Fianna Fáil show that just 140 sites across the country will be covered by the levy in 2019.
Deputy O’Brien explained, “The Government’s lack of ambition is very evident with just €9m anticipated to be raised out of the levy in 2019. As well as that, we have seen that a high proportion, 37 out of 137 appeals against the levy made to An Bord Pleanala, have been successful.
“It’s clear the full impact of the levy will be far short of what was promised by the Government almost five years ago now. Even with the increase due in 2020, the scale of the levy seems insufficient to tackle vacant sites and incentivise the development of badly needed homes.
“The fact that one in four appeals are successful is another note of concern and it begs the question of whether the criteria for a vacant site is being applied equally throughout the country.
“Each local authority seems to be taking a different approach to rolling it out, leading to serious inconsistencies. The rate of the levy itself needs to be reviewed annually in light of what impact it has on incentivising development. The Government seriously needs to review the levy and its implementation”, concluded Deputy O’Brien.
Correspondence sought by Fianna Fáil through Freedom of Information requests has revealed that there are still significant delays in filling vacant posts in An Bord Pleanala. It has emerged that the State agency has been without a Legal Advisor since 2011.
The party’s Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien commented, “An Bord Pleanala’s existing Workforce Plan 2017-2018 is due to come to an end this month but there are still clear gaps in the recruitment of a legal advisor and ecology posts. The Bord first sought a legal advisor as far back as 2011 but despite this the vacancy has only just very recently been advertised.
“It is troubling that there are such delays in filling these essential roles. Legal appeals taken against the decisions reached by An Bord Pleanala such as the Apple Data Centre in Athenry have caused real damage, particularly to local economies nationwide.
“In addition, this vacancy will have risked the development of badly needed housing projects and therefore potentially worsening the housing crisis. I’ve previously raised this matter but the mounting delays are becoming more and more apparent.
“The Bord now process appeals in relation to the Vacant Site Levy, strategic housing applications as well as the growing workload of planning appeals and CPOs. Without the ability to access legal advice, the Bord is weakened and at a time when the workload is increasing.
“It’s up to Minister Murphy to ensure that the Bord is fully equipped to carry out its central role in the country’s planning system. In our view, the Minister needs to move to expand the number of board members and reduce the quorum for decisions on smaller developments in order to expedite decision making.
“Ultimately, leaving important roles vacant for years on end won’t aid the Bord in fulfilling its role in addressing the crisis in housing,” Deputy O’Brien concluded.
Local Fianna Fáil TD and Spokesperson Housing, Planning and Local Government, Darragh O’Brien has said now is the public’s chance to share their vision on the future of Balbriggan.
A three year €20m strategy to regenerate Balbriggan will be published in March 2019. Those in the region are invited to complete the ‘Our Balbriggan’ online survey to help shape and influence the details of the plan between now and December 14th. The survey is available on www.balbriggan.ie .
He said, “The North County is one of the most rapidly expanding in the country, especially popular with tourists and both young professionals and families hoping to relocate. Not alone is the population the youngest in Ireland, it has grown by almost 95% since 1993. That's why proper forward planning and investment are crucial.
“Any initiative to develop a vision that secures the future of the town for generations to come deserves public support. I fully back the project led by Fingal County Council and the Balbriggan Leadership Group.
“The communities in seaside towns such as Balbriggan have massive untapped potential. Developing amenities, stimulating development and nurturing small businesses are important elements of any plan to regenerate an area but I would love to see every household in the town complete this survey over the next ten days and have a say about what they would like to see in their area.
"I will do all I can on behalf of the people of Balbriggan and in my role as opposition Spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government to ensure that the agreed plan and strategy becomes a reality,” he concluded.
Fianna Fáil launch bill aimed at strengthening the provision of sinking funds for Multi-Unit Developments
3 out of 4 Multi-Unit Developments in Ireland do not have adequate maintenance funds in place
The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland recently carried out a survey which revealed that the vast majority of apartment developments in Ireland have not set aside adequate funds for maintenance and refurbishment.
Capital that has been set aside for essential maintenance works such as fire safety and water supply infrastructure or to invest in the quality of the property is known as a sinking fund.
A new bill drafted by Fianna Fáil’s Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD is aimed at strengthening the provision of sinking funds for multi-unit developments to ensure that apartment owners have adequate access to funds for maintenance works.
Speaking ahead of introducing the bill in the Dáil next week, Deputy O’Brien said, “The findings of the survey conducted by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has exposed how few managers have access to funding to initiate essential maintenance works in the apartment buildings under their management.
“In light of this, we need to strengthen the existing law in this sector because as these apartment blocks get older they will obviously require more investment. Our bill will outline very clearly who precisely has responsibility to properly establish a sinking fund in a given development and to provide regular updates on its use.
“We very well may be experiencing shortages in housing of almighty proportions but it’s important too that we act on the failure to provide for works in existing blocks so that they meet proper health and safety standards.
“This bill also compliments an earlier bill I introduced to support owner management companies by creating a new ombudsman to assist them in their work.
“Despite over 500,000 people living in multi-unit developments, their rights are often overlooked. The Government needs to support the passage of this bill in order to safeguard the future quality and safety of apartment developments across the country,” he concluded.