Construction Industry Federation says drawn out planning process delaying housing and infrastructure in the west

Galway daily news Planning refused for huge housing development on Galway City outskirts

The western branch of the Construction Industry Federation has said the government must review the planning system to ensure that housing and infrastructure projects are delivered in a timely fashion.

The CIF has said that in the past five years there has been a growing number of construction projects in the west which have been delayed or shut down altogether by judicial reviews.

According to the CIF’s recent National Crane Count there were 123 cranes operating in Dublin, while there were only two operating in Galway city.

Galway is expected to grow at twice the rate of Dublin according to the Government’s “Project Ireland 2040” plan. But the CIF says that target is “unlikely to be met” based on the disparity in construction activity.

“Our concern is that the window to begin these projects with any hope of completion on time is closing rapidly,” said Justin Molloy CIF Western & Midlands Regional Director.

“Judicial Reviews and other delays in our planning system are a major threat to the delivery timelines of projects critical to the development of the Western region.”

He warned that the use of judicial reviews to challenge the planning process is increasing, adding that where the do occur they should be “carefully monitored” and carried out in a timely fashion.

“Too many critical regional and national projects have been delayed, and in the case of the Apple Data Centre in Athenry shelved, to the detriment of the people in the West.”

The CIF says that in 2018 there were 41 Judicial Review proceedings, while in 2019 to date there have been 34, with the federation saying the number of judicial reviews in on track to double by the end of 2019.

“As a result, the CIF is requesting that the Government review Judicial Reviews within the decision-making process to ensure its usage is optimum,” Justin Molloy said.

“Critical will be the need to set strict time frames to assess the validity of Judicial Reviews and their subsequent processing through the courts.”

“The CIF has stated that the principle of locus standi should be applied as a threshold before a Judicial Reviews is undertaken. This would mean that only those living in an area affected by a proposed development can object.”

“The new Strategic Housing Development legislation is welcome as it does give statutory time frames that An Bórd Pleanála must adhere to.”

“However, while our planning system sets out time frames for adjudicating on planning applications / appeals, no such time frames exist when decisions by planning authorities, or indeed An Bórd Pleanála, are the subject of Judicial Review.”

“We’re calling on Government to address this issue in the system to ensure we have the most effective and efficient system that protects the individual’s rights whilst enabling the type of sustainable development that benefits the entire region.”