October 3, 2023
Government must get planning reform right – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has said that ‘the Planning and Development Bill going to cabinet today represents an important opportunity to get planning right.’

However, he said that ‘if Government has ignored the very many concerns expressed by opposition and a wide range of stakeholders during Pre Legislative Scrutiny of the draft Bill, then they risk making the planning system worse.’

Teachta Ó Broin said:

“The Planning and Development Bill going to cabinet today is the first major reform of the planning process since 2000.

“In recent years, the chronic under resourcing of our planning system coupled with ill conceived and rushed changes to planning law by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have under mined public confidence in the planning system. This was made worse by the scandal surrounding An Bord Pleanála in 2022.

“The consequences of these failed policies and poor management can be seen in poorer quality planning decisions, increased conflicts between different layers of the planning system, long delays in planning decision times and increased litigation.

“During Pre Legislative Scrutiny of the draft Planning Bill earlier this year a wide range of stakeholders, including planners, architects, Local Government bodies, residents’ associations, Environmental NGOs, legal experts and developers raised significant concerns with the legislation.

“They warned that without significant amendment, the Bill risked making our planning system worse in terms of the quality of decisions, further delays and increased litigation.

“When the final Bill is published in the coming weeks we will see if Minister O’Brien has listened to and acted on these concerns. However, based on the short memo issued to journalists today it does not appear than much has changed in the legislation.

“When the Bill is finally published, Sinn Féin will study it closely. We will engage constructively with the Minister during the passage of the legislation, particularly at Committee stage.

“We will also need to see what additional resources Government intent to provide both the local planning authorities and to An Bord Pleanála to ensure that the additional functions included within the Bill can be delivered.

“The Bill provides a unique opportunity to get planning right. To ensure that our planning system allows us to meet the social, economic, and environmental needs of our society.

“This means a properly resourced planning system, with a real focus on plan making and early public participation, clear statutory time-lines for all stages of the planning process and the removal of conflict and confusion between different layers of the planning system.

“However, this will only happen if Government works with opposition and stakeholders within the planning process to get the legislation right.”

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