Housing, Local Government and Heritage | Acceleration of determination of applications and appeals to An Bord Pleanála
To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage the steps, if any, he has taken to improve the planning process in terms of more rapid determination of applications and appeals to An Bord Pleanála, having regard to the situation in respect of backlogs and waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
In November 2022, following an updated assessment by An Bord Pleanála of resourcing issues likely to emerge as a result of planning applications in respect of proposed developments under the National Development Plan and other infrastructure projects, of the Board’s new marine functions, as well as a number of new senior positions approved under the Action Plan for An Bord Pleanála in accordance with its 2022-2023 Workforce Plan, the Board sought sanction for 34 additional posts. My Department provided sanction for these additional 34 posts in December 2022 and the Board is currently in the process of filling these positions.
Furthermore, three temporary ordinary Board members were appointed to the Board in early January 2023 and I intend to make further temporary Board appointments in the near future. In addition, there is an ongoing competition in the Public Appointments Service (PAS) to recruit a further ordinary board member with a specialist marine planning background and an appointment is due to be made for this Board position in February following interviews.
An Bord Pleanála has received an exchequer allocation of €26.9 million for 2023, which is an increase of €4.7million on its 2022 allocation.
Under the draft Planning and Development Bill 2022, which was approved by Government on 13 December 2022, it is proposed to introduce statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes under the planning code, including appeals and other decisions by the Board, in order to bring greater certainty to the planning consent process in respect of decision timelines. Where the Board fails to make decisions within the prescribed timelines, it will be subject to fines. My Department is continuing to work with the Board to finalise the exact timelines that will be applied and these will be included in the finalised Bill. It is intended that the timelines will be introduced on a phased basis once the legislation is enacted.
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