New Housing Planning Bill Announced

A new bill has been published which aims to reform the planning process in Ireland.

The Planning, Development and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 was unveiled by Housing Minister Simon Conveney today, 07 November.

However, Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin has claimed the legislation is "ill conceived" and "will need substantial amendment if it is to contribute to solving the housing and homeless crisis".

While he welcomed a number of aspects on the Bill, Deputy Ó Broin said issues in the Bill on fast track planning and tenants' rights is "much more controversial and problematic."

"There are a number of smaller aspects of the Bill which I welcome," he said.

"The strengthening of the Part 8 planning process used by Local Authorities for council housing will prevent planning delays.

"Allowing Universities to access Housing Finance Agency fund's for student accommodation is a sensible development. However, the substance of the Bill dealing with fast track planning and tenants' rights is much more controversial and problematic.

"The proposal to fast track private planning developments by bypassing Local Authorities and going straight to An Bord Pleanála is a profound change to our planning system. Despite repeated requests the Minister has not provided an evidence base for this proposal. Nor has he demonstrated that the move will not undermine good planning and further alienate communities from the planning process. 

"The proposal to strengthen tenant's rights in developments of more than 20 units is incredible weak. The measure only covers 0.56% of landlords and a tiny percentage of rental tenants. The overwhelming majority of those living in the private rented sector will not benefit from this change. This means that those families at risk of homelessness because of buy-to-let properties being repossessed by the banks will continue to be at risk of homelessness."

Deputy Ó Broin added it was "disappointing" the Minister chose to give the Bill to the media before presenting it to TDs and Senators.

"Minister Coveney asked the Oireachtas Housing Committee to facilitate the speedy passage of this Bill by dispensing with the six week legislative scrutiny. Given the scale of the housing and homeless crisis we agreed to his request," he said.

"However the Minister also said that he was open to constructive proposals for improving the Bill. Sinn Féin will be tabling amendments designed to improve the legislation and we hope the Minister will give them serious consideration."


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