Fast-track planning


First application today (see below) - developers can now skip local authority phase and go straight to An Bord Pleanala. It looks like there has been a queue of developers lining up waiting for this.

This legislation seemed very rushed - I wonder if there will be any challenge to it?
The fast-track planning regulation, signed into law by housing minister Eoghan Murphy on June 23 last, will see the period for such determinations reduced to a maximum of 6 months. Taking that into account, Mr Cotter can expect a decision on his company’s proposals for Clay Farm by next January at the very latest.

Under the terms of the scheme, developers seeking permission for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 units or more are no longer required to apply to their respective local authorities in the first instance, but can instead apply directly to An Bord Pleanala.


New fast-track legislation to be used for Bearna housing plan

A planning application for more than 100 homes in Bearna will be made later this month directly to An Bord Pleanála under new fast-tracking legislation – understood to be the first of its kind outside Dublin.

If approved, the development on the 18-acre site on the Bearna-Moycullen road would create up to 100 jobs during construction. Galway-based Burkeway Homes will be making the application under the new ‘Strategic Housing Development’ regulations which came into effect on July 3. It is understood that just one other such application has been made in the country to date.

The legislation – drawn up last year by the then Housing Minister Simon Coveney in a bid to tackle the housing crisis – can be used by a developer planning 100 or more houses or for student accommodation with more than 200 bed spaces (where the land is appropriately zoned).

They must first hold pre-consultation meetings with their local planning authority, then with An Bord Pleanála and then submit the application directly to the Board. By that stage, the Board will have received the opinion of the local authority.

Within six weeks of receiving the application, the Board will convene a consultation with the applicant and the local council, and issue its decision within three weeks of that. During the process, submissions can be made by members of the public.

It is anticipated that a decision on the Bearna application will be made before the end of this year, and if approved, work could begin next year, with between 80 and 100 jobs created.


Public Consultation – Review of the planning provisions regarding Strategic Housing Developments

The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the 2016 Act) introduced new streamlined arrangements, for a limited time-period, to enable fast-track planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHDs) of 100 or more housing units, or student accommodation of 200 or more bed spaces, or shared accommodation developments of 200 or more bed spaces, to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála (the Board) for determination.

The primary purpose of the arrangements is to significantly speed up the planning decision-making process for SHD proposals, thereby providing greater certainty for developers in terms of the timeframes within which proposals for such developments can be determined in the planning system, while also fully respecting the statutory requirements for public consultation and regard being had to observations submitted, with a view to ultimately facilitating increased housing supply delivery in accordance with proper planning and development.

Under section 4(2) of the 2016 Act, the SHD provisions apply for an initial period, until the end of 2019. In accordance with the Act, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government may, by order, extend that period by a further limited period of 2 years, up to the end of 2021, to coincide with the end timeframe of Rebuilding Ireland. However, prior to the making of such an order, and not later than 30 October 2019, the 2016 Act requires that the Minister review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD arrangements and lay before both Houses of the Oireachtas a report of the conclusions of the review.

In light of the foregoing, Mr. Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has recently established a Review Group to review the operation and effectiveness of the SHD provisions and to report back to him by end September 2019.

To augment the work of the Review Group, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government is now launching a public consultation offering relevant stakeholders, including the general public, the opportunity to make written submissions on the SHD arrangements which will be forwarded to the Review Group for its consideration.

How to get involved?

Make a Submission

This public consultation will run until close of business on 25 July 2019.

Submissions should be sent by email to or by post to:

SHD Review, Planning Policy Secti on, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Custom House, Dublin, D01 W6X0 .


Thanks for that, interesting.

I wonder what pressures are being brought to bear on An Bord Pleanala to allow developments? I have read about some dubious decisions from them in recent times, including overriding the concerns of their own appointed professional planning inspectors, as in the recent decision over a development at Bulloch Harbour


A double whammy for Coolock this week. Two major apartment developments are approved under the strategic housing scheme by an Bord Planala despite the objections of the local planners.

The locals might be NIMBYs but I think the local planners raised valid objections to these schemes. Firstly, the buildings are “monolithic” in the sense that there is no mixture of housing types or of building structures There are simply the maximum number of identical blocks squeezed onto the available land. Secondly, there is no infrastructure planned to support the new community and, especially, the transport infrastructure is lacking while the new residents will have to travel to work because there is little local employment.

I thought the whole purpose of the strategic housing programme was to fast track housing alongside the necessary infrastructure in a coordinated way but instead it looks like the housing is been given the go-ahead regardless of infrastructure .


‘It will annihilate justice’ - shock at laws to stop local groups challenging new developments

The Government is planning new laws to stop local groups and environmental organisations challenging controversial developments in court.

Under the planned changes, groups would have to be in existence for at least three years, have at least 100 signed-up members, be personally and substantially affected by a development, and able to shoulder potentially wipe-out costs before they would be able to take a case.

Internal documents from Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s office say they are a response to “the significant increase in the number of judicial review challenges against planning decisions in recent years” and the subsequent delays they caused.

They say the changes are needed to prevent hold-ups to the €116bn package of capital projects planned up to 2027.

“In light of the level of proposed investment under the National Development Plan, it is considered that there is a need to safeguard the timely delivery of projects and value for public money while simultaneously maintaining the rights of citizens to challenge decisions that do not comply with EU environmental law and in accordance with UN access to justice requirements,” they say.

Environmental groups have reacted with shock to the proposals - which they say would effectively deny ordinary citizens, community groups and NGOs the chance of ever taking a court challenge.

“It’s not just restricting access to justice - it would annihilate it,” said Attracta Uí Bhroin, of the Irish Environmental Network.

The changes, if passed, would make it impossible for newly formed campaign groups to seek judicial review of planning decisions affecting their locality, and extremely difficult for national groups to seek reviews on their behalf.

Ms Uí Bhroin said it was outrageous given the laws of recent years allowing major capital projects and large housing developments to go directly to An Bord Pleanála for approval so that there was no means of appealing them except by judicial review.

Individuals directly affected could take cases in their own name but Tony Lowes, of Friends of the Irish Environment (FOIE), said it was unfair to expect someone to put themselves at that kind of risk.

“We’re shell-shocked. Clearly the Government sees us as nothing but impediments but most of our cases have been about making regulatory bodies act according to the law and pushing the Government to live up to its responsibilities under European directives.”


I don’t have paywall access to this article but reading from the headline this would be a despicable piece of legislation if introduced. For instance resident groups would be unable to oppose a huge new development on their doorstep, that might have potentially huge environmental or local traffic impacts, unless the residents association was in existence for 3 years and had 100 signed up members.


Disgraceful to see such a blatant disregard for democratic process. We will be left with eyesores for generations until it becomes lucrative to knock and rebuild again. It’s already depressing to see some of the offerings thrown up (um, developed) as part of a coordinated response to the housing shortage. My six year old could architect something with less offensive / dull / jarringly asymmetrical facades than the ones I see up on ex. the Ballyogan road in recent times.


It would make applying for judicial review harder - objection is possible now and will be then, no?

Daily commutes from Mullingar to Dublin docklands are far to common and might not be if we had built decent high density housing, which would make decent public transport more feasible, inside the M50 in the 90’s and 00’s?


I am in favour of well-planned high rise development on brownfield sites in Dublin city centre, and have been for umpteen years, in order to cut down on these commutes.

But people need to be able to object to massive new developments where there are valid environmental or infrastructure concerns. For fast track developments this legislation would make it impossible for local groups to form to object to something way too large being built in areas without transport infrastructure, where there are existing traffic blackspots because of this, or to avoid developments being built on vital green spaces and sports pitches.


SHD Judicial Review: Heather Hill Management Company clg & anor -v- An Bord Pleanála & anor

The county councillors zoned areas that are at elevated risk of flooding for development, the Minister approved the plan, and then ABP approved development on the flood areas.

It required a Judicial Review to overturn this…here is what the JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Garrett Simons has to say on this particular issue:

  1. The content of the [Strategic Flood Risk Assessment] SFRA in respect of the Bearna Plan has been summarised as follows in the board inspector’s report of 30 October 2018 at pages 38 and 39.

“Section 4.3 states:
• Material Alterations No. 1-6 provide for a range of incompatible uses within areas that are at elevated risk of flooding (these areas were identified by the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment);

• Material Alterations No. 1-6 provide incompatible uses that are contrary to proper and sustainable flood risk management and contrary to The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2009) and Circular PL2/14;

• If any of the lands subject to Proposed Material Alterations No. 1-6 that are located within Flood Zones A or B were developed, there would be a heightened risk of flooding and associated adverse effects on people and their assets. Such effects are identified on Table 4.1 and range from loss of life, to damage to property, to loss of income; and

• Material Alterations No. 1-6 would result in elevated potential for water quality to be adversely affected (as a result of flooding of water treatment systems and collection networks and flooding of unknown substances stored onsite). Polluted or contaminated waters would have the potential to adversely affect human health and biodiversity and flora and fauna (including designated European Sites).

In addition, SFRA section 4.2 states:

In order to be consistent with the need to contribute towards proper planning and sustainable development and in order to comply with the Flood Risk Management Guidelines, it was recommended by the SEA that zoning as proposed by Variation 2 (a) and not zoning as proposed by the Material Alterations was selected.

Elected Members decided to select zoning as proposed by the Material Alterations. This zoning is contrary to The Planning System and Flood Risk Management Guidelines for Planning Authorities (2009) and Circular PL2/14. Consequently, the Variation is contrary to these Guidelines and associated Circular.”

  1. This last statement from the SFRA is striking. In effect, the SFRA concedes that the Bearna Plan, more properly known as Variation 2 (a) of the Galway County Development Plan 2015 – 2021, has been made contrary to the flood risk management guidelines. This conflict between the plan and the guidelines came about as a result of a decision of the elected members on 23 July 2018 to adopt as part of the final plan a number of “material alterations” to the original draft of the Bearna Plan. As appears from the extract from the SFRA as set out in the board inspector’s report (above), the SEA, i.e. the strategic environmental assessment, carried out in respect of the “material alterations” had recommended that the zoning as proposed by the material alterations not be selected. The elected members chose not to follow this recommendation, and the plan as adopted included the altered zoning objectives. One of these “material alterations” related to the lands now subject to Objective CCF 6.


There seems to be a pattern of An Bord Pleanala allowing planning applications that are with variance with the advice of professional planners and these have to be overturned by (I imagine expensive) judicial reviews. Now Eoghan Murphy’s planned legislation will make it much more difficult to have a judicial review.

The title of party for developers seems to have firmly changed hands… if Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in the UK had proposed this type of legislation people there would be aghast.


142 houses in Malahide, priced between €750,000 and €1m, are now of “national importance”…

SEAN Mulryan’s Ballymore property group has told An Bord Pleanala that plans for 142 housing units at a site at Malahide on Dublin’s northside are of “strategic and national importance” due to the housing shortage.

It has been previously estimated by estate agent Cushman & Wakefield that houses with an average floor area of 1,930 sq ft on the Seamount Malahide site could sell for between €750,000 and €1m.

Ballymore wants to materially contravene the local development plan by building more units per hectare than that plan would permit.

New national policies have been implemented since the development plan came into force.

“These new national and regional policies take precedence over local authorities’ development plans and place an emphasis on compact urban growth,” planners for Ballymore have told An Bord Pleanala in a planning submission for the proposed development. The board can permit material contraventions of local plans.

“The significant shortfall in housing output to address current and projected demand is a national problem, with lack of housing in metropolitan Dublin and elsewhere having social and economic ramifications for sustainable national growth,” Ballymore’s planners said.

"We would therefore submit that the proposed development is of strategic and national importance."