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Ó Broin introduces Bill to scrap controversial Ministerial planning powers

20 July, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson on Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoin Ó Broin has introduced the Planning and Development (Amendment) (no. 2) Bill 2016 that seeks to scrap Minister’s powers to issue mandatory guidelines to local authorities on planning matters. These powers were controversially introduced by former Minister for Environment Alan Kelly in 2015 and were used to lower the minimum apartment sizes.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“Late last year, former Minister Alan Kelly controversially amended the Planning and Development Act to give himself specific powers impose specific planning guidelines on Local Authorities. The new power allowed the Minister of the day to override the democratically agreed County Development Plans and Local Area Plans.

“These powers have only been used once to date and that was to issue the contentious Design Standard for New Apartments. These ministerial guidelines outlined a number of specific planning requirements that had to be followed by local authorities on the design of new apartments. This included the introduction of minimum apartment unit sizes.

“The effect of the guidelines was to allow for smaller apartment sizes to those permitted by a number of Local Authorities including Dublin City Council.

“It is the statutory function of Local Authorities to set their own planning framework in line with general government policy. These are democratically debated and agreed in the development plan and local area plan process.

“No Minister should be able to arbitrarily impose a different set of standards in this way. 

“This Bill that I have introduced today seeks to remove this power from the Minister and reverse the bad regulations on apartment sizes. It also seeks to prevent further potential abuse of Ministerial powers that seek to undermine local democracy and that have the potential to lead to bad planning in the future.” 

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