Tuesday, 29 January 2019
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
587. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no staff member in Louth County Council assigned to deal with taking in charge of estates in County Louth; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that as a consequence there are a number of estates whose applications to be taken in charge are not being dealt with; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3730/19]
Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001 responsibility for staffing of a local authority and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out its functions is a matter for the relevant Chief Executive.
Residential developments consisting of two or more dwellings that have been granted planning permission under section 34 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, may be eligible (depending on the grant of planning condition) for taking in charge. The taking in charge of residential estates by local authorities is provided for under section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended. The taking in charge of residential estates is a reserved function of the elected members.
Under Section 180 (1) of the Act, the planning authority is obliged to initiate taking in charge procedures where requested by either the developer or by the majority of owners of the dwellings. However, this is subject to the development being completed to the satisfaction of the authority and in accordance with the permission and any conditions.
The intention of the legislation is that once a residential estate is complete, the planning authority can be requested to take over the roads and footpaths, water services, public lighting and open spaces. However, where work has not been completed to satisfactory standards, there can be a delay in this process as enforcement proceedings including invocation of bonds are progressed.
My Department launched the National Taking-in-Charge Initiative (NTICI) in April 2016 to trial new approaches and working methods in supporting and accelerating overall national and local action on the taking-in-charge process of housing estates, including estates with developer-provided water services infrastructure (DPI). Under the terms of the NTICI, which was underpinned by €10 million in funding, developments subject to valid taking-in-charge applications were eligible for inclusion in the associated call for funding proposals. Ultimately, €7.5 million of the allocated funding was paid to local authorities in respect of 330 developments, containing some 13,400 homes.
Findings and recommendations from the NTICI process were included in a report on the initiative that my Department published in December 2018. The report can be found at the following link -
The publication of the NTICI report is of value to local authorities and other stakeholders in applying the lessons from the pilot authorities, in a more general roll-out of a streamlined approach to taking-in-charge, including through coordination with capital works by Irish Water.
In addition, the National Development Plan includes provision of €31 million for the period 2018-2021 for DPI, demonstrating the Government's commitment to transition from the pilot phase under NTICI to a programme phase.
My Department is finalising plans for the introduction of this programme phase for taking in charge of developer-provided infrastructure and an announcement will be made in this regard shortly. As indicated above, staffing arrangements in relation to the implementation of this programme in individual local authorities is a matter for the Chief Executive.