Thursday, 11 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I welcome the commitment from the Minister of State and that the review is under way. When will the review be complete? The Minister of State must write to local authorities, as from my perspective in Limerick, local authorities seem to be taking the view that if they give planning permissions in line with local area plans of the order of 35 units per hectare or less, it will be overturned by An Bord Pleanála. There is a need for real clarity around the matter.
I invite the Minister of State to come to Limerick to see what I am speaking about. There is an area in Castletroy where there could be over 700 houses going in and there are two roads leading to a traffic management bottleneck. It does not seem to be taken into account by local authorities in the granting of planning permission.
We want sustainable development. I want to see apartment blocks but I want to see them in specific and sustainable locations. Laws are being interpreted at a local authority level and for whatever reason there may not be a full appreciation of what the Minister of State has indicated this evening. I ask him to write to the local authorities and tell them they have discretion and must consider the qualities of areas. We need high densities in cities, for example, but that is not the case in mature areas where young families may make their home. Putting blocks of five or six storeys in their back yards is not sustainable. The same is true when we put in large numbers of houses and apartments in an area with serious traffic problems.
We want people to use public transport but if a bus cannot get around a corner and an apartment block is put on that corner, it is not sustainable development. There is a lack of understanding of how plans are processed. The problem is that when planning permission is granted and the units are built, they will be there forever. We are only on this Earth for a short period and people want to buy homes in which to rear children or just for themselves. They put hard-earned money into buying them. Through no fault of their own they can be in a position where a block of five or six storeys is in their back garden and that is not sustainable.
I ask the Minister of State for information on the timing of the review. I also ask him to write to local authorities to reaffirm this position. I look forward to him coming to Limerick city.