Judicial review and the planning process

Sir, – Robin Mandal (Letters, March 18th) refers to the Strategic Housing Development process as being undemocratic and being responsible for reducing the supply of housing.

I can’t agree that it is that simple.

Whatever the shortcomings of the SHD process, what makes the current system so undemocratic is the use (arguably abuse) of the judicial review process after An Bord Pleanála makes a decision following months of consultation and inputs by experts.

A small number of judges becomes the final planning authority.


Almost all of the cases brought to judicial review stage (and that represents a large proportion of planning permissions) are overturned by these judges and the appellants typically get their costs paid for by the State, even if they lose which itself is a rare outcome.

The conversion of planning permissions into housing delivery is also complicated. An Bord Pleanála, following guidance from Government, looks for high densities which normally involves apartments.

But in many cases, apartments are not commercially viable and developers end up with permissions that don’t make commercial sense.

– Yours, etc,



Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.