Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said the courts should not decide planning applications and he is hoping proposed new legislation would ensure this power is given to local authorities and An Bord Pleanála.
Mr O’Brien also said he supported comments made by the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Wednesday that too many people and political parties are objecting to planning applications for housing developments, which the Minister said was unhelpful to the Government’s pledge to end long-term homelessness by 2030.
“We have a housing crisis that is resolvable and solvable, we need people to stop objecting, frankly,” said Mr O’Brien during a visit to Limerick on Thursday.
The Minister said he could not comment concerning the High Court quashing planning permission granted for a 300-bed student development on the outskirts of Limerick city, after it found that An Bord Pleanála had failed to send a submission by an objector to the local council within the required time limit.
He said: “I don’t believe planning decisions should be made in the courts, it’s not the right place for them. Planning decision should be made in our local authorities and in An Bord Pleanála.”
Mr O’Brien is hoping to bring a “consolidated planning Bill, the most extensive change to the Planning Act 2000″ before the Cabinet within the next two weeks “which will be published before the year end, which is going to deal with a lot of the grey areas and anomalies that we are seeing”.
“I am not saying that someone doesn’t have a right to take [a case] to court, of course they do, but courts are not the right place to make planning decisions,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said the Government’s housing delivery plans was “not impacted” negatively by the present scale of overvaluing of the housing market, which the ESRI said in its report published on Wednesday was in the region of 7 per cent.
He said he was “confident the Housing for All plan is gaining momentum and is robust enough to be able to withstand external challenges”.
“The housing plan we have is multi-annual and we are fully funded — €4.5 billion into next year — to deliver social and affordable houses and other initiatives around [vacant properties].”