New legislation has come into effect that will enable planning applications for large-scale housing developments of 100 units or more, and large scale student accommodation projects, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála from the 3rd
July 2017. The new Regulations intend to “fast-track” the planning process for strategic housing developments will be in place until the end of 2019, with the possibility of extension by the Minister for a further two years, to coincide with the life of the Government's action plan on housing and homelessness, Rebuilding Ireland
The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has recently enacted the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) (No. 3) Order 2017 and associated supporting Regulations.
The new procedures will apply to strategic housing developments on land with appropriate zoning and subject to limitations on the extent of other uses. ‘Strategic Housing Developments’ are defined as:
- residential developments of 100 dwellings or more;
- student accommodation projects containing 200 or more bed spaces;
- mixed developments that include 100 dwellings or more, and/or student accommodation with 200 or more bed spaces; or
- alterations of existing planning permissions to permit any development outlined above
The new Regulations set out the detailed procedural and administrative matters relating to the determination of planning applications for proposed strategic housing developments and the requirements on relevant parties. While planning applications for such large-scale developments will only be capable of being made to the Board, there will still be a key role for the relevant local authority in the determination process i.e. in assisting in pre-application consultations, including attendance at meetings with the Board and the developer/housing provider, as well as submitting reports to the Board regarding proposed developments.
The main stages for such a planning application, made to the Strategic Housing Division of An Bord Pleanála are as follows:
Stage 1: Initial Pre-Planning Meeting/s with the Local Planning Authority
This involves a mandatory initial in depth pre-planning consultation with the Local Planning Authority. The prospective applicant is obliged to have at least 1 no. such pre-planning meeting. Such a meeting differs from normal pre-planning discussions in that there is a mandatory obligation upon the prospective applicant to include certain information as part of the consultations. This information includes the provision of detailed draft drawings and plans, statements regarding compliance with the relevant development plans/ local area plans and so forth. Other wide ranging additional requirements must also be included at this stage, which would necessitate the compilation and presentation of a supporting planning statement for the proposal.
Stage 2: Pre-Planning Consultation/s with An Bord Pleanála
Following the above mandatory pre-planning meeting/s with the Local Planning Authority, a prospective applicant shall, make a request in writing to An Bord Pleanála (the Board) to enter into consultations.
- Within 2 weeks of the receipt of a request the Board is obliged to either:
- accept the request of the prospective applicant to enter into consultations where it decides that the request has complied with other pre-requisites, including any regulations made for the purposes of such consultations; or
- refuse the request of the prospective applicant to enter consultations where the prospective applicant has not complied with the relevant requirements or the Board decides that the request does not include some or all of the information, statements or appropriate fee etc.
- The Board is obliged to convene a consultation meeting within 4 weeks of receipt of the prospective applicant’s request and within 3 weeks of holding the consultation meeting to form an opinion as to whether the documents included in the consultation request constitute a reasonable basis for an application for permission for the proposed development, or require further consideration and amendment to constitute a reasonable basis for such an application.
- The Board will then issue a notice to the prospective applicant and the planning authority and will, set out in the notice its advice as to the issues that need to be addressed in the relevant documents that could result in them constituting a reasonable basis for an application for permission.
- Dependent on the decision above, a prospective applicant may proceed to apply for permission for the proposed development to the Board or seek a further pre-application consultation with the Board.
- In general, the Board shall complete such formal pre-application consultations within a minimum period of 9 weeks, providing its opinion on whether or not the proposed development is broadly consistent with the development plan or local area plan, and accordingly whether or not an application for permission for the proposed Strategic Housing Development may be subsequently submitted to the Board.
Stage 3: Application to the Board for Permission
The new Regulations set out the detailed procedural and administrative matters relating to the determination of planning applications for proposed strategic housing developments and the requirements on relevant parties. Over the coming weeks, An Bord Pleanála will also publish ‘Strategic Housing Developments - Guide to Making an Application” and accompanying application forms at www.pleanala.ie
The Board shall make its decision on an application for permission for a Strategic Housing Development within 16 weeks of the lodging of the application or within such other period as the Minister may prescribe where it appears to him or her to be necessary, by virtue of exceptional circumstances, to do so.
In cases where the Board considers there are exceptional circumstances that require an oral hearing, the Board shall make its decision on the application within 24 weeks of the lodging of the application as per Article 303 of the Strategic Housing Development Regulations 2017.