Tail wags dog with developer-led planning bill

Ivana Bacik TD
30 November 2023

– Where is the ‘use it or lose it’ clause to stop developers from sitting on land?

Speaking on the Planning and Development Bill 2023 in the Dáil this evening, Labour Leader and Housing Spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD has criticised the government for introducing a planning reform that appears to favour developers and speculators, at the expense of people in Ireland who are suffering due to Ireland’s broken planning system.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The impact of a planning system is far reaching for any country. It shapes our physical environment, and determines whether the State is capable of providing key infrastructure, such as housing, public transport and energy capacity. The dogs in the street know that Ireland’s planning system is not fit for purpose, however.

“The Planning and Development Bill 2023 is badly needed, and long anticipated. Unfortunately, Opposition TDs have been provided with very little time to review the 715-page legislation before debate on it commenced today. Planning law is simply too important for there not to be adequate scrutiny.

“Moreover, it would appear that significant concessions have been made to developers during the drafting process, at the expense of all those who are disadvantaged by the dysfunctional system which is in place today. In response to criticism of his inaction on the housing crisis, some months ago, Minister O’Brien mooted the introduction of a ‘use it or lose it’ clause in this important legislation. This provision would have compelled developers to build homes on the land they are holding, or risk losing their planning permission altogether. It would be a vital measure to curb financial speculation on land which could be turned into homes for people. Yet, the Minister appears to have quietly abandoned these measures and they are absent from the Bill which was debated today.

“In a housing crisis of this magnitude, the hoarding of land by speculators is unforgiveable. Those who secure planning permission to build homes should be made to deliver on that housing. There were more than 100,000 dormant or non-activated planning permissions for homes in the State at the end of last year. More than 50,000 of these were in Dublin, where we know the housing crisis as at its most severe.

“The Bill will make for interesting Christmas reading for us all as we anticipate the opportunity to table amendments to it in January 2024. We in Labour call on Minister O’Brien to rebalance his focus, to ensure that our planning law serves the people who need homes, public transport, and clean energy infrastructure – not just those who stand to profit from commodifying land.”

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