Written answers

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Department of Environment, Community and Local Government

Planning Issues

9:00 pm

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Labour)
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Question 432: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the conditions of an An Bord Pleanála planning decision are not met and the development is in the hands of a liquidator, on whom does the local planning enforcement office enforce the conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7843/12]

Photo of Michael McNamaraMichael McNamara (Clare, Labour)
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Question 433: To ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the conditions of an An Bord Pleanála planning decision are not met and the development is in the hands of a receiver, on whom does the local planning enforcement office enforce the conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7844/12]

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Minister, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government; Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 432 and 433 together.

The developer of, for example, a residential estate is statutorily required to complete the development in accordance with the terms of the planning permission. A development which has not been completed in accordance with the planning permission is unauthorised development. Enforcement of planning control is a matter for the planning authority, which can take action where a development requiring planning permission has not obtained this permission or where permission has not been complied with.

Planning authorities have substantial enforcement powers under the Planning and Development Act 2000. A planning authority may issue an enforcement notice, non-compliance with which is an offence, in connection with unauthorised development (which includes failure to comply with planning conditions) requiring such steps as the authority considers necessary to be taken within a specified period. If an enforcement notice is not complied with the planning authority may itself take the specified steps and recover the expense incurred in doing so. A planning authority may also seek a court order requiring any particular action to be taken or not to be taken. The Planning Acts also place clear statutory obligations on planning authorities in relation to unauthorised development.

A planning authority must issue a warning letter in relation to written complaints regarding unauthorised development or other unauthorised development it becomes aware of (except in the case of trivial or minor development). The planning authority must then carry out an investigation and where it establishes following such an investigation that unauthorised development (other than development that is of a trivial or minor nature) has been or is being carried out, and the person who has carried out or is carrying out the development has not proceeded to remedy the position, the planning authority must issue an enforcement notice or make an application for a court order unless there are compelling reasons for not doing so.

The 2000 Planning Act also contains other relevant provisions in relation to the completion of housing estates:

· Sections 34(4)(g) and 180(2)(b) of the Act provide that a planning authority may attach a condition to a planning permission requiring the giving of adequate security for the satisfactory completion of a development, and, if the development is not subsequently completed satisfactorily, may apply the security to that satisfactory completion.

· Section 160 of the Act provides that a planning authority may apply to the Circuit Court or the High Court for an order requiring that a development be carried out in accordance with the permission.

Accordingly, planning authorities have very substantial powers to compel the completion of housing estates by developers in accordance with the terms of the planning permission.

Section 180 of the 2000 Planning Act provided that where estates have not been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced within the relevant period, the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the majority of the residents of the estate, initiate the procedures for taking the estate in charge. A further provision has been added in the 2010 Act to provide that a planning authority may take in charge an unfinished estate, at the request of the owners of the housing units, at any time after the expiration of the planning permission, in situations where enforcement actions have commenced or where the planning authority consider that enforcement action will not result in the satisfactory completion of the estate by the developer. Planning authorities have also been empowered to take in charge part of an estate or some, but not all, of the facilities in an estate. The decision as whether to take an estate is taken in charge is ultimately one for the elected members of a local authority.

Legislation and issues arising in the context of company law are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. However, in general the liquidation of a company is the process under which assets are collected and disposed of and the resulting proceeds are applied, if there are sufficient funds, in discharging the company’s liabilities. The balance, if any, which remains after paying the costs and expenses of a liquidation is distributed among the members of the company according to their rights and interests or as set out in the company’s constitutional documents.

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