Extension for planning objections due to Covid-19

The Government has given an extra 23 days for objections to be made to planning applications because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Environmentalists say the pause is not long enough.

However, the construction industry and homeless charities are worried about delays building up in the planning system.

Attracta Uí Bhroin of the Irish Environmental Network said that people cannot be reasonably be expected to concentrate on planning applications given the extraordinary national emergency.

She said families have more pressing concerns such as loss of jobs or business, childcare and illness.

However, the pause has come on top of a halt to the construction of new homes and the homeless charity Focus Ireland has warned about the future effects.

Roughan McNamara, the charity’s advocacy manager, pointed out that surveyors have warned that if projects are shelved it could take 18 to 24 months to get teams back working.

“Focus Ireland believes that it’s important that continuity in the planning process is maintained to sustain the supply of housing as much as possible”

There are up to 15 judicial reviews in the High Court against permissions granted for fast track planning under Strategic Housing Development or Strategic Infrastructure Development legislation.

Industry experts say this is one of a number of delay factors – last October it was reported that construction has not started on 10,000 out of the 16,000 units for which planning permission had been obtained under the fast track planning.

The Government has insisted that the planning system remains open with staff working remotely in many cases and its understood that An Bord Pleanála is giving priority to strategic housing developments.

However James Benson, Director of Housing, Planning and Development with the Construction Industry Federation, has warned that any delay will magnify the housing crisis.

“We already struggling with challenges in a housing crisis we are now in a medical emergency and when this is over the housing crisis will remain in a worsening position in a weakening economy and with potential blockages”

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