Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, has announced significant reforms of the planning system as part of the forthcoming Planning No.1 Bill. The new reforms include new Part V requirements for developers, the introduction of a vacant site levy and ‘Use it or Lose it’ clauses with planning permissions.
The new Part V proposals will require developers to provide up to 10% of their housing units for social housing and the legislation will remove the ability of developers to account for their social housing commitments through cash payments to local authorities. The proposals will furthermore ensure that the social housing units will be located predominantly on the site of the original developments.
The new legislation will also see the introduction of a vacant site levy whereby local authorities, in urban centres of greater than 3,000 population, will have the power to apply levies to property owners who leave their sites vacant and underutilised. The proposed levy will work by applying an annual levy at a rate of 3% of the market value to the site if the owner does not take steps to develop the site. Once in place, local authorities will have the power to apply such levies to vacant sites in areas designated for priority development under their respective local development plans.
The Bill will also provide for reduced development contributions in specific circumstances and allow local authorities to introduce a ‘use it or lose it’ system of planning permission for housing developments. This would require applicants for planning permission in respect of housing developments of scale (10 houses or more) to indicate their proposed development schedule, and where the development is subsequently not progressed in line with the schedule, without reasonable justification, to modify/ reduce the duration of the permission.