Action plan for housing

Action plan for housing

Proposed Planning Reforms

Rebuilding Ireland, an Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, identifies 5 pillars to be addressed, each with a series of ambitious action plans which it is hoped will help drive delivery of homes to the market. This overall plan includes the setting up of a high level Housing Delivery Office and for the establishment of a Housing Procurement Unit within the Housing Agency. Oversight of the action plan is driven by a Cabinet Committee on Housing which frames Delivery and Policy, and which work with the various agencies and stakeholders.

The plan seeks to increase the annual level of residential construction to 25,000 homes and to deliver 47,000 social housing units by 2021.

The five pillars comprise the following:-

  1. Address Homelessness
  2. Accelerate Social Housing
  3. Build More Homes
  4. Improve the Rental Sector
  5. Utilise Existing Houses

The third pillar identifies a number of Planning Reforms which should help speed up the delivery of new homes. These include:-

  1. Measures to allow larger planning applications to be made to An Bord Pleanala and to ensure that such large scale housing applications are dealt with within the 18-week statutory period
    Section 4 (a) of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 entitled “Strategic housing developments and planning applications” provides that a planning application for a strategic housing development shall be made to the Board and not to a planning authority.
    “Strategic housing development” includes the development of 100 or more houses.
    As the decision of a local authority for most large scale projects would typically have been appealed to An Bord Pleanála a period of 18 to 24 months would have been a common timeframe required to obtain a planning permission. The fact that a planning application can now be made directly to the Board should ensure a speedier delivery of houses and save a developer considerable “carrying” costs on a site.
    A consequence of this is that architects, when designing schemes, are typically seeking to achieve greater than 100 units in a scheme, as a developer can then avail of the fast track planning procedure.
  2. Streamline the Part 8 process to ensure that a planning authority can assess and approve developments more quickly
    This is governed under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended). It is proposed to seek to review the legislation, with a view to further streamlining the process whereby a planning authority can assess and approve housing projects more quickly, either for itself or where it may be undertaking a project with a housing association.
    The action plan envisages various stakeholders working together on a collaborative basis to help drive delivery of housing. These stakeholders include local authorities, housing associations and developers.
    A typical arrangement would involve a developer teaming up on a joint venture basis with a local authority in seeking to agree a deal where a developer would deliver housing to the authority on lands owned by the developer. This involves a developer agreeing all aspects of the deal with the local authority at the outset, to include site cost, build costs etc. Once agreed the underlying contracts are put in place. These include a contract relating to the development of the social housing, which is supported by an Option Agreement where the developer grants to the authority a right to purchase the housing on the agreed terms within the option period. Once the agreements are in place, the local authority would proceed by way of the fast track Part 8 procedure.

These regulatory reforms come on the back of planning reforms already made to the planning process, to include:-

  • Streamlining of Part V obligations of developers
  • Introduction of the concept of core strategies within city and county development plans
  • Reductions in development contributions
  • Introduction of a vacant site levy

For further information on this topic, please contact Brendan Sharkey on 

Brendan Sharkey
Author: Brendan Sharkey