Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has obtained and compiled data which reveals there has been a reduction of over 10% in the number of staff in An Bord Pleanála since 2008. This has occurred despite the fact that according to their latest report, the body’s work load has grown by 19% year on year since 2016.

Deputy O’Brien commented, “At a time when housing is so urgently needed, facilitating development projects should be a priority but instead there are very clear signs of serious blockages in planning.

“Numerous builders have raised their concerns with me regarding undue delays in An Bord Pleanála reaching a decision on proposed new housing developments.

“The statutory body has a legal obligation to reach a decision within a set timeframe but the rate of completion within that specified time has gone from 79% to 64% in 2016 to 2017. It’s now the case that the average completion time has risen by another 2 weeks from 15 weeks to 17 weeks.

As more and more decisions are being drawn out with requests for further information, these targets seem to be slipping. The end result is that it is taking exceptionally long to get a final decision on a housing proposal which in turn costs more and takes longer to build badly needed homes.

“During a major housing emergency, staffing in our national planning agency is still 11% below 2008 levels. It therefore appears that there is an insufficient number of staff to deal with planning decisions in a prompt manner.

“Minister Murphy has stated he is satisfied that An Bord Pleanála is sufficiently resourced yet that’s at complete odds to the growing fears raised by builders that are sitting on housing projects waiting to get building.

“Effectively tackling the housing crisis requires a wide range of measures and ensuring that planning decisions are made in a timely manner is one of them.

He concluded, “I am calling on the Minister to boost the resources available to An Bord Pleanála and ensure local authorities are adequately equipped to carry out their planning duties.”