New planning law to speed up developments will be passed by Christmas, says O’Brien

Third largest piece of legislation to be published in history of State would replace An Bord Pleanála with new Coimisiún Pleanála

A controversial Bill addressing systemic problems in the planning process and long delays in the completion times of developments will be enacted by Christmas, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has said.

The Planning and Development Bill runs to over 750 pages and is the third largest piece of legislation to be published in the history of the State.

It includes a number of changes designed to accelerate building during the housing crisis, including fines for breaches of mandatory planning deadlines, and placing new limits related to the standing of parties to take court cases.

The draft Bill extends the duration of a development plan from six years to 10 years, with a further two-year extension in exceptional circumstances. It will also provide for a new Coimisiún Pleanála to replace An Bord Pleanála.


The Bill also provides that those bringing judicial review applications must have a “sufficient interest”. This has led to concerns, including among Green Party TDs, that it may prevent residential associations and environmental groups from taking proceedings against developments.

The Bill was published in January but has yet to come before the Dáil and Seanad. Some technical sections of the Bill needed to be completed. Mr O’Brien said on Thursday that the Bill is now being finalised and will come to Cabinet in the next week.

“A lot of detailed work has gone into it,” he said, adding that the law would support new developments but also strategic infrastructure.

He said he wanted Opposition parties to support the Bill, which he added was the largest reform of the planning system for at least 20 years.

“I want it passed before Christmas. It is urgent. It is required,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said it would allow a planning system that was transparent and that would contain “no surprises” for people. He maintained it was fully compliant with the Aarhus Convention, the international agreement that gives people the right to lodge appeals on environmental grounds. Critics have said the new law would preclude some people from taking their concerns over developments to the courts.

Mr O’Brien was speaking at the launch of a major new social housing development in Connaught Street, Phibsboro. The 20-apartment building was developed by Focus Ireland on a brownfield site that was formerly a tyre centre.

Focus Ireland chief executive, Pat Dennigan, said the development meant that 20 households now had a place to call home.

“It is rewarding to see the most basic and fundamental need of their own roof over their head met as this development provides homes and has ended homelessness for some of the new tenants,” he said.

“The location is right in the city and in an area of the city which so many people love, near Dalymount Park, Croke Park, and the Mater hospital.

On the eve of the latest monthly homeless figures being published Mr O’Brien insisted that the Government’s housing policies were having an impact, and argued that social housing developments were now being done at volume.

Asked about whether Ukrainian refugees newly arrived in the country would have to be accommodated in tents, Mr O’Brien said the State had accommodated almost 100,000 people since March 2020 between Ukrainians and those seeking International protections.

“That has not been without its challenges but (the point is) we have managed to do that.

He said his Department’s main response for this winter was to continue with plans to refurbish disused buildings.

The Department would provide a further 1,500 spaces for refugees in revamped accommodation between now and the end of the year, in both commercial and residential buildings.

Mr O’Brien added that the Department had also taken over the “offer a home” scheme where people offered holiday homes, or second homes, to the authorities. He said the Department had provided 4,500 spaces in 1,900 homes to date and expected to provide more during the winter.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times