Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing Barry Cowen has criticised the Government over its handling of a legislative blunder discovered in the Planning and Development and Residential Tenancies Act 2016.
The error could delay the construction of hundreds of new homes which are urgently needed to tackle the housing crisis.
Deputy Cowen said, “Earlier this year Fianna Fáil highlighted serious concerns regarding a legislative error which was contained in the Planning Act. This legislation was rammed through the Dáil by the Government just days before Christmas and it has now been confirmed by the Department that there is a serious flaw in the legislation. The error means that planning permission for many housing developments that are currently under construction cannot be extended. Construction on these developments will have to cease operations unless a correction to the legislation is made.
“Housing developments that are in the middle of construction may have their planning expire as a result of this error. Builders on these developments have been waiting anxiously since Christmas for a provision to give developments a second planning extension to commence. However the Minister has been unable to do so due to the error. These are housing or apartment developments of more than 20 units which were granted original planning permission just before, or just after, the housing market crashed in 2009.
“We have received confirmation over the weekend that the new Bill which was intended to correct the drafting error – the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2016 – will not have enough time to go through the Oireachtas before the summer recess. Consequently, Minister Murphy wants to bring this through as a stand-alone provision, which may or may not pass before the recess.
“This is an amazing level of disorganisation from the Government, on an error which Fianna Fáil discovered and has been pointing out to the Department since early April. It is also the direct consequence of the decision to prioritise Shane Ross’ Judicial Appointments Bill, which does not even relate to his own Department.
“There should be no doubt that correcting this error in legislation is a massive issue which will cause a great deal of housing development that is on site and near completion to cease construction due to planning permission expiration. The Government’s decision to give virtually all the Dáil time to Minister Ross’ vanity Bill displays a stunning disregard for everyone affected by the housing crisis.
“This gross incompetence will have very real material consequences for builders on these developments, not to mention people waiting on these homes to be completed.”