The SHD process has been a success at only one thing – boosting the value of developers’ sites, not housing stock
Planning laws have become a developers’ charter thanks to the intervention of successive Ministers, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisin Shortall, who has published legislation to restore quality and democracy to the planning process.
“The decline in standards began in 2015, when Labour leader Alan Kelly was Housing Minister, and the minimum size of apartments was greatly reduced. It continued under Simon Coveney, who oversaw a fast-track Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process for large projects that was drafted by construction lobbyists, and Eoghan Murphy, who removed height limits – and with them the discretion of planners as regards building size.
“There were two purported reasons for all of these changes – to boost supply and to reduce prices. This never happened. Instead, all that has been achieved is lower quality housing at greatly increased cost.
“Of the 110 SHDs in the Dublin region that have been granted planning permission since 2017, construction has started on fewer than 30pc of sites. Developers’ reticence to proceed from planning permission to construction was evident even pre-pandemic. In fact, a “use it or lose it” provision, to stop developers hoarding planning permissions, was supposed to be introduced by the Department of Housing last year – but never materialised.
“As it stands, the SHD process has been a success at only one thing – boosting the value of developers’ sites, not housing stock. At what point will the government admit these interventions in the market have failed? Minister Darragh O’Brien has signalled that the SHD process will come to an end in February 2022, but seems to have no idea what will replace it.
“Today, I am offering him a helping hand. I have published a Private Members’ Bill, which will be introduced in the Dáil on Thursday, that seeks to undo the damage caused by these interventions.
“The Social Democrats want to address the housing crisis, not with shoebox apartments that are priced out of the reach of ordinary workers, but with high quality, affordable housing that promotes sustainable communities.
20 April, 2021