Planning updates

Planning updates April 2024

Knocknacarra, Galway

MKO welcomes the news that An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission to our client Glenveagh Properties for their development that will form part of the Knocknacarra District Centre in Galway. This exciting grant of permission will bring 227 apartment units, commercial units and a childcare facility. Additionally, a community space will be part of the development which will benefit both the existing and future residents of the area. A new civic square will provide the focal point of the Knocknacarra District Centre of the urban village. MKO provided planning advice and a detailed planning application, prepared an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which included a Landscape and Visual Assessment and work from our ecology team, as well as the project management of this application while working alongside a fantastic design team that brought this development to the finish line. 

‘Hell or high water’ for the Planning Bill 

In a wide-ranging speech to a summit of the Irish Home Builders Association, the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien told attendees that the new Planning and Development Bill would be delivered by the Oireachtas before the summer recess “come hell or high water”. Debate and review of amendments to the Bill is still ongoing at the committee stage, with discussion of some of the more controversial provisions related to Judicial Review ongoing. Despite apparent progress made on amending and progressing the bill, a survey of Irish Planning Institute (IPI) members revealed that 80% of participants do not support the legislation in its current format. 

Development fees

The Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, has announced his plans to request an extension to the end of 2024 of the waiver on development levies and the water connection rebate to the Cabinet before the expiration of the existing schemes at the end of April 2024. This scheme began on the 25th of April 2023 as a measure intended to reduce rents and keep house prices in check. It was initially set to last one calendar year.   

Minister O’Brien has previously stated that the measure could reduce the building cost of a house by up to €12,700. He stated that there has been a 71% increase in the building of new homes in the lead-up to the upcoming expiration of the waiver and added that “Everyone here can see the impact the waiver on development levies and the water-connection charge rebate is having.” This waiver measure extension is welcomed by home and apartment builders as the need to increase the stock of housing across Ireland is felt by builders, homeowners and renters alike.  

An Bord Pleanála updates 

Peter Mullen, chair of An Bord Pleánala, has indicated that the Board seeks to make 80% of cases within the legally mandated 18-week time frame this summer. This is in line with a quote given at the beginning of this year saying the Board was targeting ‘a substantive clearance of the excess caseload’ by summer 2024. This overlaps with the target of the new Planning and Development Bill delivered by the summer. The Bill will restructure and rename the Board to An Coimisiún Pleanála and also provide new timelines for applications which are lodged directly to the new Commission where they will have up to 48 weeks to make a decision.

Separately, while the organisation has returned to a full complement of 15 Board members, new figures provided to the Oireachtas housing committee revealed that of the organisation’s approved staff headcount of 313, the current employee count is 261. With a shortfall of 52 employees from that headcount, the goal of clearing the 2,400 cases currently in the system remains an ambitious target.

This also comes as barrister Lorna Lynch SC’s report on the Board and analysis of potential conflicts of interest on almost 300 case files experienced a flaw in the redaction process. That error allowed recipients in receipt of the draft report to read not only about themselves as intended, but the conclusions about others contained in the document. That report was due to be published the second week of April but has since been delayed to the first week of May.

Supreme Court Decision 

On 10th April 2024, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal of the High Court’s power to return planning applications to An Bord Pleanála for reconsideration. The case reviewed involved the proposed development by Noel Smyth’s Fitzwilliam Limited for apartments up to 13 stories high at St. Michael’s Hospital, Crofton Road in Dublin. The dismissal confirms that a successful legal challenge of a planning application does not end consideration of the application. In most cases, the application may be returned to the decision maker for new consideration. Additionally, the court said that “it must be presumed that the Board will act fairly” instead of the High Court providing specific directions to the Board on how a new decision should be made.  

At the Court hearing, An Bord Pleanála’s lawyers stated that the Supreme Court’s decision could impact more than 20,000 pending homes. It is expected that the Court’s decision may increase the number of ‘fresh’ planning permissions in which the standard permission duration of 5 years will begin again.  

Consultations per the OPR

Loughrea Local Area Plan 2024-2030 – Proposed Material Alterations

Members of the Loughrea Municipal District have resolved that the Draft Local Area Plan be amended, following consideration of the Draft Loughrea Local Area Plan and the Chief Executive’s Report. The proposed amendments constitute material alterations to the Draft plan. Members of the public are invited to submit written observations specific to the proposed Material Alterations.  

Submissions must be made before 4:00 PM on Monday, 13th May 2024 online, by email or in writing. Details on how to submit an observation are below.  

  • Email: Write to and include ‘Proposed Material Alterations to the Draft Loughrea Local Area Plan’ in the subject line.
  • Post: Forward Planning Section, Galway County Council, Prospect Hill, Galway. The envelope should include ‘Proposed Material Alterations to the Draft Loughrea Local Area Plan’.

Monasterevin Local Area Plan – Pre-Draft Issues Paper 

County Kildare is working to prepare a Local Area Plan for Monasterevin and has set out an Issues Paper to guide the considerations for the future LAP which will guide the land use strategy and proper planning and sustainable development of the area.  

Submissions can be made before Wednesday, 22nd May 2024 to Kildare County Council either online or by post. Details on how to submit are set out below.   

  • By post: Senior Executive Officer, Planning Department, Kildare County Council, Áras, Chill Dara, Naas, Co. Kildare.  


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