To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the reason for a use it or lose it criteria attached to fast-track planning; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As part of the actions under the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness – Rebuilding Ireland, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 housing units or more, or student accommodation or shared accommodation developments of 200 bed spaces or more, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination.
A Strategic Housing Development Review Group was established in June 2019 to review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD process and the possible extension of the arrangements until 31 December 2021, the end date of Rebuilding Ireland. The Review Group Report was submitted to my Department on 24 September 2019. A report on my conclusions of the review, as well as the Review Group Report, has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas, as required by the Act and copies of both reports are available on my Department's website.
The Report of the Review Group acknowledges that the SHD arrangements have generally been a success in meeting their objectives to contribute to addressing housing undersupply issues by providing a fast-track development consent process aimed at incentivising developers to bring forward applications for large-scale housing developments.
Notwithstanding the positive contribution the SHD arrangements have made, the Review Group noted that only 37% of SHD planning permissions have commenced development and suggests that, subject to further monitoring of activation rates, consideration could be given to the introduction of a policy measure such as a “use-it-or-lose-it” provision to incentivise the commencement of works post the granting of planning permission.
I have reflected on the views of the Review Group on the rate of activation of SHD sites, and I consider it appropriate that developers should be sufficiently motivated to commence development on foot of an SHD permission in a timely manner given the benefits the SHD arrangements provide. Therefore, I consider that it would be appropriate to introduce a "use it or lose it" measure in this regard and I intend bringing forward the necessary legislation to address this matter.
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