Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Urban Regeneration: Discussion (Resumed)

Photo of Steven MatthewsSteven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank Mr. Reynolds. To be clear, I think it is the view of all the members of the committee that there should be no reduction in any standards concerning fire safety or accessibility in protected structures or in the planning guidelines in that regard. What is being considered is a way of making that process easier, because we must use every administrative tool available to us now, not just to rejuvenate our towns but to build houses as well. We must build places for people to live in, and if we can make the processes easier while maintaining and improving standards, then we will have to address that context.

For the information of members and witnesses, the committee has a session planned to examine building regulations. I cannot remember who our witnesses are going to be, but Mr. Ó Cofaigh was mentioned. He has done a great deal of work on building regulations, but I am not sure if he is on our invitation list. I would like to confirm with Ms Graham the concept of increasing risk to the State. If the committee could get some feedback or response on that topic, it would be helpful.

I will pose my questions now, go to Deputy Gould after that and then give the witnesses an opportunity to wrap up. Regarding planning exemptions, and this is probably a question for the witnesses from the Department, that process can be good and can speed up the process. When there is no planning process, however, who oversees that kind of design and work that may impact a street visually or otherwise? How does the planning exemption mechanism work compared with the regular planning process?


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