Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
An Bord Pleanála: Discussion
The Chairman will be delighted to learn this is not a live case. It has been completed. This was a planning case. The board's decision was overturned and it was appealed to the High Court. I will not go into more detail. The board lost and it then went on to the Supreme Court and it also lost there, which is most interesting. I have the judgment here. Much of the expenditure was incurred by the board, but that is its prerogative, and I respect that. We must be careful because we have a situation now where there is no appeal system for any development of more than 100 houses. Unfortunately, because of the Government's arrangements, Rebuilding Ireland and the priorities of the Custom House, there are no appeals for major planning applications. The first appeal is to the board and then applicants go from the board to the courts. The courts, therefore, are becoming the arbitrators of planning policy. That should be of concern to An Bord Pleanála, the public and to us because of the significant costs attached. There is also significant exposure for the board. It is not a nice place for anyone to find themselves in and, in particular, it is not a nice place when there is a lot of money involved. I am happy to send on the details if anyone wants a reference for it but there are lessons to be learnt from that case and the vast costs incurred by the board.
Could Mr. Walsh comment on the conflict in contravening local county development plans? That is a source of great annoyance to local councillors. They agree county development plans. It is one of their most significant powers and functions and then the board overrides them. What is more frustrating is that the board sometimes makes a determination on a planning application where its inspector has decided that it should not go ahead but the board then overturns the decision of its inspector. I understand the board and the inspector have roles but they need to communicate because there are concerns.
I refer to the Dún Laoghaire cruise berth. It is not a live application. I do not wish to go into it but when I looked at the website this morning, I had no better idea what was happening. There is no clarity on the decision. Much of it is about messaging. I know I have said a lot. I am supportive of the board. I recognise its independence but it is important to communicate messages. I am especially interested in how its member are appointed. Are there currently vacancies on the board?