Sir, – The Government’s recent quarterly report on its Housing for All strategy makes a startling claim concerning the judicial review process, stating that 7,000 homes have been lost and 14,000 tied up because of it. On what basis is this claim made? None is given.
Let’s look at the facts. Only a small percentage of planning permissions are the subject of legal challenge. Of the more than 27,000 planning decisions made in 2021, only 2,000 were appealed to An Bord Pleanála. Of these, less than a hundred were the subject of judicial review.
There have been 35 strategic housing developments (SHDs) subjected to judicial review in the High Court and which have been concluded. The State or the developer has prevailed in just three of them. In other words, the High Court has found that the law on which the planning decisions were made has been broken in 32 out of 35 cases, and in some of these cases, multiple times.
The real problem is that a far greater number of planning permissions granted are not activated at all. Of the just under 68,000 apartments and houses granted permission under the SHD system, by March 2022 commencement notices had been submitted for under 13,000 of them. None of these were the subject of judicial review.
Judicial review is not the cause of, or a significant contributor to, our housing shortage or homelessness.
One element of a solution to our housing crisis would be to impose a very hefty site value tax on land that is zoned for development but not developed and to charge landowners for the privilege of holding zoned undeveloped land.
And then, if they don’t use the land for development, they should lose the planning permission.
Making our judicial review process a scapegoat for our housing crisis is nonsense. Such unfounded claims are unworthy of inclusion in a Government report. – Yours, etc,