Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021

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


3:00 pm

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The introduction of strategic housing developments was a cause of major concern and anger in the community. Local authorities have been bypassed in the planning process for large-scale developments of 100 or more units and also with large-scale student accommodation. This has led to a less than democratic decision making process in large-scale planning applications, with local residents being forced to make a submission on a planning application for an SHD directly to An Bord Pleanála. Effectively, residents' hands are tied by the planning process for SHDs. If residents are not happy with the decision by An Bord Pleanála after the submission, there is only one remaining option, which is to appeal the decision by seeking a judicial review in the courts. This is a complicated and expensive process for residents but one that favours developers.

The Minister has indicated it is his intention to end this flawed process in the coming month. It should never have been introduced in the first place. The previous Government introduced the SHD process and the Minister's party supported these measures. In government, instead of ending the process immediately, it was extended to February 2022.

I have concerns with elements of this Bill. Under current legislation, developers previously submitted plans in contravention of both city and county developments. Despite this, An Bord Pleanála has allowed projects to go ahead. This Bill fails to address this possibility, which is a real concern both for me and residents of my community. Of considerable concern is the lack of clarity around section 6 of this Bill, which amends section 50A of the principal Act, bypassing the Court of Appeal and going directly to the Supreme Court. Will the Minister explain the reasoning behind this? What are the long-term objectives of including this provision in the Bill? Going directly to the Supreme Court and bypassing the Court of Appeal creates enormous obstacles for the ordinary resident and appears to favour the developer disproportionately.

It is also clear from the Bill that SHDs will continue to be part of the development process for a considerable period. It is obvious developers will rush in with a plethora of applications in the time left to them. This will, in effect, extend the SHD process into the future. This should not be allowed to happen if the intent of the Bill is to stop the current use of SHDs. Sinn Féin will put forward amendments to address these and other concerns.


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