herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Developers told to 'use it or lose it' in planning shake-up

Paudie Coffey
Paudie Coffey

BUILDERS with planning permission for development land are to be told to "use it or lose it" in a Government plan to force them to provide more new homes.

Local authorities will be given powers to reduce the amount of time allowed to develop new estates if they believe builders are delaying construction works in the hope that prices will rise.

Under the plans, revealed by housing minister Paudie Coffey, the owners of undeveloped land on "critical sites" will be called in to see why new homes are not being provided.

He also said that local authorities have been asked to deal with planning applications as quickly as possible to get construction under way.

This is because despite a demand for 80,000 homes in the main urban areas across the State between now and the end of 2018, supply is not meeting demand, which is fuelling price rises.

Last year, just over 11,000 homes were built, of which almost half were one-off homes. Just under 13,500 homes were granted permission.

The Government plans to take a more focused approach to monitoring planning permissions to ensure construction works get under way in a timely fashion.

Most permissions are typically for five years, although they can be for longer durations for larger estates.

The new rules will require building to take place on a continuous basis and not be delayed until the market rises.

"There will be a use-it-or-lose-it provision for all new planning permissions," Mr Coffey said. "It's a mechanism to encourage and create a more interactive approach for planning authorities.

"They can reduce the duration of permission if there is no obvious reason for not delivering. It will allow us to focus on other developments if people are not playing ball."

The Government has announced a series of changes to planning laws which are expected to be formally published after Easter, including a requirement that 10pc of all homes in a new development are provided for social housing.

Other changes include an annual vacant site tax of 3pc of the value of the land, to prevent land hoarding in areas with populations above 3,000 people, which can rise to 6pc.

"There are a number of key sites identified which are not being developed in Dublin," Mr Coffey said.

"We are calling in the owners of these sites to see what their plans are, because they [the sites] are critical. What are the problems, why are they not being developed? Are there measures available to assist them?"

hnews@herald.ie

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