Lawyers at Fieldfisher have stressed the importance of resourcing the planning departments of local authorities, in order to help ensure that new legislation aimed at boosting the supply of housing can succeed.
The proposals in the Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Development) Bill 2021 include, for developers, a mandatory eight-week consultation phase with the local authority.
In an analysis on the firm’s website. Fieldfisher lawyers Neil Dineen and Simion Curmei describe the bill’s aims as “indeed ambitious”, and say that it could play “a significant role” in improving housing supply.
They add, however, that much will depend on local authorities having the resources to engage in a “meaningful” pre-application consultation process, and keep within the timeframes outlined in the bill.
Transition period 'reassuring'
Earlier this month, the Government approved the move to replace the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process with the new system that will give powers back to local authorities.
Under SHD, applications for developments of at least 100 residential units, or 200-plus student bed-spaces, can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála (ABP).
Darragh O’Brien (Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage) said that the bill would retain what he described as some “positive elements” of the SHD arrangements.
The Fieldfisher lawyers describe the plan for a transition period from the SHD arrangements to the new system as “reassuring” for developers.
“Both planning-consent schemes will operate concurrently for a limited period, as developers already in the SHD system will be able to continue to decision-making stage,” they say.