Majority of cases before Bord Pleanála not decided in time

Unacceptable for business not to know how long is the waiting time for a decision - Casey

The incoming chairman of An Bord Pleanála, Dave Walsh

The incoming chairman of An Bord Pleanála, Dave Walsh

 

Sixty per cent of cases before An Bord Pleanála are not decided within a statutory 18 week deadline, the incoming chairman of the board Dave Walsh has told TDs and Senators.

Mr Walsh who was appointed by Minister Eoghan Murphy last September, said a major effort had been made at the end of last year to get the older cases decided.

He told the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government that as many of these were well beyond the statutory 18 week limit, the effort did not improve the board’s ’s compliance. In fact, he said it may have temporarily “ worsened” the compliance rate.

Mr Walsh said there had been a number of reasons for the delays, including an insufficient number of board members available to determine the large volume of cases and the fact there had been a switch from paper processing to computerised files .

“I recognise we have to change from where we were,” Mr Walsh said.

He added that 96 per cent of “small” cases such as household extensions were decided within the 18 week period.

However Wicklow Fianna Fail TD Pat Casey said it was “not acceptable” that either businesses or householders were forced to go before the board with their proposals with “no firm date for a decision”.

Mr Casey said it was particularly “unfair” that businesses did not know how long it would take to get a decision.

As well as the lack of information for decision dates, he also criticised the delays, noting that only 40 per cent of cases were decided within the statutory timeframe. “That 40 per cent is nowhere near where you need to be, ” he told Mr Walsh.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin also said the delay was unacceptable. He said he believed the 18 weeks was, if anything, too long. He said the board’s decision making involved reading substantive reports that had already been made.

He asked Mr Walsh how many of the 60 per cent that fell outside the 18 weeks were up to a year, or how many were beyond a year. “Can you give us a breakdown?” he asked.

Mr Walsh said he did not have that information to hand. He told the committee that he had prioritised the oldest cases as as these were dealt with the number of cases breaching the 18 week rule would progressively reduce.