Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Urban Renewal and Housing Pat Casey TD has warned that a major blunder in legislation put forward by Minister Simon Coveney will force developers to cease construction on many large housing developments.

The major error is contained in the ‘Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016’ which was passed by the Oireachtas before Christmas. The error means that planning permission for large housing developments which are currently under construction cannot be extended as they cannot get an extension under Section 42.1 (A) as originally thought. This will force developers to cease construction as they will not have active planning permission.

Deputy Casey explained, “The legislation which Minister Coveney rammed through the Oireachtas just before Christmas allowed local authorities to extend planning permission for a second time for major housing developments, for up to five years. This provision was introduced to allow the construction of large housing or apartment developments of more than 20 units, most of which were granted planning permission prior to 2009.

“Many of these developments stalled and were granted a five year planning extension. The new legislation introduced just before Christmas sought to grant a further 5 year extension of permission where construction was already underway to ensure that works could be completed. This extension is especially important for the large developments granted their initial planning permission in 2007 or 2008 as their five year extension is due to expire in 2017 or 2018.

“However it now transpires that a major error was made in the legislation which means they will not be able to avail of another extension of their planning permission. This in turn means that planning permission extensions can only be granted to developments where construction had commenced prior to the expiration of their initial planning permission. This means that projects where construction commenced during their initial extension period will not be eligible for a planning extension as was generally thought.

“For example, projects granted planning permission in 2007 had to have commenced construction before 2012 to be now eligible for an extension of their planning permission. If construction began during the extension period from 2012 to 2017, these projects will not be allowed a further planning extension and construction will have to cease.

“This will affect hundreds of housing developments that have broken ground or even those close to completion and will lead to significant delays in bringing new housing stock onto the market. This is a disaster considering how the country is currently in the midst of a housing crisis. Minister Coveney must be held accountable for this major blunder which will greatly exacerbate the housing crisis. This is what happens when legislation is rammed through the Dáil without proper scrutiny.”