Planning board expecting big increase in housing applications

Strategic Housing Development scheme being used accelerate the development process

An Bord Pleanála expects a "significant increase" in housing applications this year. The national planning appeals board continued to see a rise in cases received, up 6 per cent from 2,570 in 2017 to 2,734 in 2018.

Its end of year summary states more than 7,000 housing units and 4,400 student beds were approved under the fast-track planning scheme introduced by the Government in 2017.

The Strategic Housing Development scheme means applications are directly submitted to An Bord Pleanála to speed up the development process.

"An Bord Pleanála's performance in relation to Strategic Housing Developments has been very strong, with 39 cases decided during 2018, all well within the 16-week target. We expect a significant increase in housing applications in 2019, and we will continue to prioritise these cases and deal with any large-scale housing appeals expeditiously," said planning board chairman Dave Walsh.


A further 21 strategic housing applications are due for decision over the next three to four months.

Since legislation came into effect in July 2017, applications for planning permission for strategic housing developments (100-plus housing units, 200-plus student bed spaces and shared accommodation) are made directly to An Bord Pleanála.

By the end of December 2018, 52 valid applications for strategic housing developments had been received with permission granted in 27 cases for a total of 7,102 housing units and 4,479 student bed spaces.

‘Running down a backlog’

A mandatory timeline of 16 weeks to decide all strategic housing applications was met for all decisions issued.

The total number of cases decided last year was 2,829, up from 2,143 in 2017. However, compliance with the statutory objective period of 18 weeks to decide with planning appeals was down from 64 per cent in 2017 to 38 per cent last year.

An Bord Pleanála said this was due to “running down a backlog” that had generated the previous year.

The average number of weeks to decide planning appeals was just over 22. An Bord Pleanála has set a target to decide 80 per cent of appeals cases within an 18-week period by the fourth quarter of 2019.

Just under two-thirds of all appeals (64 per cent) related to residential development which range in scale from home improvements to single and multiple unit accommodation proposals.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times