The fast-track planning system was introduced in 2017 by the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. The program was aimed at expediting large scale developments and introduced the system for strategic housing development legislation. The fast track planning system is now subject to undergo public review.
The strategic housing scheme allowed fast track decision making for large scale housing schemes. The legislation allowed developers planning to build large scale housing schemes to make their case directly to the An Bord Pleanala. This allowed developers to by pass local authority decision making processes and thus, the planning process is expedited. With out the fast track planning system, large scale developments would have to be approved by local authorities and then could be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.
The Strategic Housing Development system gave effect to the commitment in Rebuilding Ireland. This commitment is defined as “fast-track” devision making for large scale housing and student accommodation schemes.
According to the rules of the fast track housing planning system, developers building sites with 100 or more housing units or 200 or more student housing units can apply straight to the An Bord Pleanala. The planning board is required to deliver a ruling on the proposed plans within 16 weeks of applying for development approval.
The current rules apply until the end of the year. However, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has the ability to extend the fast track planning system for an addition two years, and bring the system in line with the conclusion of Rebuilding Ireland.
The Department of Housing opened public consultation on the fast track system. They also invited submissions from “relevant stakeholder, including the general public”. The strategic housing development legislation was introduced to speed up the delivery of large housing schemes, some have been turned down by objections and overturned in judicial reviews. Thus the effectiveness of fast track planning system is hard to analyze.
For example, Carin Homes had plans for large scale development under fast track for 220 additional housing units in Blackrock, Dublin were rejected by a judge. The Southwood Park Residents Association similarly attempted to get planning permissions. The Residents Association took judicial review proceedings against the planning bord’s decision to grant permission on the grounds of Chesterfield House. The developers permission was denied by Justice Garrett Simons. He rejected the permissions based on a document on the potential impact of the development on bat species was not posted online.
There is a increasing trend of the High Court to rule against the planning permissions granted to developers by the An Bord Pleanala.