Fast-track planning turns into fast-track fiasco - Imelda Munster TD
Sinn Féin TD for Louth Imelda Munster has today criticised the Minister for Housing for his failure to recognise the total, and predictable, failure of Strategic Housing developments, or the “fast track” residential planning process.
Speaking at a meeting of Public Accounts Committee where Department Officials and An Bord Pleanála appeared as witnesses, Deputy Munster questioned how a statutory policy introduced to fast-track large-scale residential developments has allowed a situation where two thirds of those units have not commenced construction.
Teachta Munster said:
“We now know that the policy was written by developers, for developers. To add insult to injury, the Housing Minister at that time, Tánaiste Simon Coveney invited developers’ lobbyists to write the policy and legislation on his behalf.
“Now we have a situation where developers can get planning permission for large housing developments, with essentially no interference from the democratic process.
“Bureaucrats are making these decisions with no accountability to local authorities, the electorate or democratically mandated county development plans.
“The Sunday Business Post laid out the extend of the problem last weekend. Of 15,000 units granted permission under the SHD scheme, 10,000 have not commenced construction yet.
“The lack of checks and balances in this process is very troubling. The planning process is wide open to abuse.
“Developers are getting planning permission but there is no onus on them to build anything. Meanwhile we have 10,000 people homeless and tens of thousands of people on the housing list.
“Developers are still up to their own tricks – sitting on land, flipping it, speculating. And all of this is mandated by government.
“At today’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee it was clear that there are serious issues with this policy.
“Sinn Féin’s view is that a statutory time frame should be put in place for pre-planning and requests for further information and An Bord Pleanála appeals, which would significantly shorten the turnaround time for planning decisions through local authorities.
“If these changes were made the developer led fast track planning proposal would be redundant and could be scrapped once it expires at the end of the year.”