Brexit-related projects could be allowed fast-track planning, Minister says

Eoghan Murphy confirms Government is set to publish new planning legislation

New legislation could create a fast-track planning mechanism for projects the Republic is likely to require after the UK leaves the EU, according to  Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

New legislation could create a fast-track planning mechanism for projects the Republic is likely to require after the UK leaves the EU, according to Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

New legislation could create a fast-track planning mechanism for projects the Republic is likely to require after the UK leaves the EU, according to Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

Mr Murphy told the Construction Industry Federation annual conference in Croke Park on Wednesday that the Government intended publishing new planning legislation by the end of the year.

After his address, he confirmed that the legislation could broaden the definition of what building projects qualify as strategic infrastructure.

Such strategic projects benefit from a fast-track planning scheme, which involves seeking permission directly from An Bord Pleanála rather than going to local councils.

Mr Murphy added that the Government could decide to include projects required urgently following Brexit in this definition.

He also confirmed that the new legislation would include provisions meant to tackle “vexatious” legal challenges to projects including large housing schemes.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the conference earlier that he shared planners’ and developers’ frustration at the fact that such challenges delayed good projects.

Permission granted

Addressing the conference, Mr Murphy said that planners had granted permission for more than 36,000 new homes this year. “It’s the first time that we have reached that level since 2010,” the Minister added.

He also confirmed that he was looking at ways of streamlining the strategic housing initiative, the fast-track planning system for residential developments of 100 or more homes.

The Minister told the gathering he had completed a review of the scheme and would bring his findings to Cabinet in coming weeks before putting them before the Oireachtas.

Earlier, economist and Irish Times columnist David McWilliams told the conference that plans for infrastructure had to take into account the Republic’s young, growing population.

He stressed that infrastructure plans should take future, rather than current, needs into account.

Mr McWilliams pointed out that population growth here surpasses anywhere else in the EU “by a country mile”, while the Republic also attracts more immigrants per head of population than most other European countries.

At the same time, he argued that Brexit would result in extra investment in the Republic.

“We need to build infrastructure,” he told the conference. “We need to do it because the opportunities for growth and the opportunities of Brexit mean we will have much more capital inflow than we expected.”

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