Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Development) Bill 2021 [Seanad]: Second Stage


2:30 pm

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance) | Oireachtas source

I will open with an appeal to the Minister, and I hope his answer will be "Yes". We had a deadline of 11 a.m. today to submit amendments, before the Bill had even passed Second Stage. We were able to table quite a few amendments, but this is not fair. I have raised this at the Business Committee. We need more time to put forward amendments following a debate. Having listened to the debate so far, at least two further amendments have occurred to us. We should have the right to submit them. It is not acceptable.

There should be proper scrutiny of the Bill on Committee Stage. We need to strike down the SHD legislation which has failed. While we have to meet the deadline of 17 December, that does not require riding roughshod over proper Committee Stage consideration of the Bill. It certainly does not mean that we should be tied to a deadline for Committee Stage amendments before we have even completed the Second Stage debate and heard the Minister's response. I ask that there be some latitude to submit amendments following today's debate. I hope I will get a positive response.

The strategic housing development planning process was a failure, and that is why we are all agreed that it has to go. That is what this Bill is about. Why was it a failure? It was a failure because it did not deliver the housing that we need to address the housing crisis. It most certainly did not deliver affordability in the small amount of housing it did deliver.

It completely alienated local communities, tied housing development up in a series of legal challenges, rode roughshod over local democracy and proper and sustainable planning and it facilitated speculation and hoarding by profit-driven developers. The figures for SHD approvals speak for themselves. Of the 210 SHDs granted, only 72 were developed. Some 24,000 homes were approved and only 8,700 homes were commenced. It is clear that in many cases this is a direct result of speculation. Deansgrange, which the Minister's colleague, Deputy Devlin, should concern himself with, as should all Deputies in our area, is an example of what needs to be addressed. It is an SHD that was granted a few years ago. The developer got SHD approval for a nine-storey development overlooking Deansgrange cemetery and across the road from small, one-bedroom cottages. The developer sat on it for two years and recently flipped it. Nothing was built, of course. That is what was going on and what it facilitated.

How did all that happen? How did we get it so wrong? We got it wrong because there were, frankly, ideological assumptions. We are often accused of ideology on this side of the House but, of course, ideology permeates every party. One of the ideological assumptions that is completely misguided, but which we hear trotted out repeatedly, is that the reason we do not have this, that or the other housing development is those nasty objectors, and that if there was just a process that allowed the developer to get around these nasty objectors, we would have all the housing we need and resolve the problem. This is an idea that very much chimes with private developers, who were facilitated by the SHD, got a special process of their own, got lots of grants and delivered hardly any housing, none of which was affordable. Let us start by recognising that we were had on that argument. As to learning the lesson from that, and I am not sure what the Minister is signalling-----


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.