Dáil Debates & Questions April 2017

Dáil Debates & Questions April 2017

(1)            Land Ownership – Foreshore Issues

(2)            Planning Issues


(1)            Land Ownership _ Foreshore Ownership

  1. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae     asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government     the details of the ownership of land (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16039/17]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney):     As I previously indicated in the reply to Question No. 249 of 21 June 2016, the area in question appears to be reclaimed foreshore and all of Ireland’s foreshore is considered to be owned by the State, unless valid alternative title is provided.

Correspondence from Solicitors for the persons named, replying to a letter from my Department that issued in May 2016, was received on 27 March 2017. My Department will respond directly to that correspondence in the very near future again seeking details on how the area came to be reclaimed.

(2)            Planning Issues – Enforcement – 5th April 2017

  1. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan     asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government     his views on whether the current regime in planning effectively allows developers a free hand once planning permission is granted, without any meaningful prospect of sanction by either removing an unauthorised construction or applying for retention permission, in the event of planning violations, breaches of planning permission in particular or of planning law in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16937/17]
  2. Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan     asked the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government     his views on enforcement as an aspect to the planning process; his further views on the desirability of funding the following activities (details supplied) money spent on the following to be money well spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16938/17]

My role, as Minister, in relation to the planning system is mainly to provide and update the legislative and policy guidance framework. The legislative framework comprises the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.

With regards to policy guidance, my Department has issued a large number of planning guidelines (available on the Department’s website, www.housing.gov.ie) under section 28 of the Act, to which planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are obliged to have regard in the exercise of their planning functions. The day-to-day operation of the planning system is, however, a matter for the planning authorities.

Under planning legislation, enforcement of planning control is a matter for the relevant planning authority which can take action if a development does not have the required permission, or where the terms of a permission have not been met. Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case, including an enforcement issue, with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. There are extensive enforcement provisions provided for in Part VIII of the Act, with a view to ensuring that works pertaining to permitted developments are carried out in accordance with the planning permission granted and any associated conditions and that no unauthorised development takes place. If a person is of the view that any development works being undertaken are not in compliance with the permission granted or are unauthorised, s/he may make a written complaint to the relevant planning authority who shall investigate the matter and take any appropriate enforcement action, including, where necessary, the seeking of a Court order requiring that the development is carried out in conformity with the planning permission and any condition pertaining to that permission.

If an enforcement notice is not complied with, the planning authority may itself take the specified steps and recover the expense incurred in doing so. A planning authority may also seek a Court order under section 160 of the Act, requiring any particular action to be done or not to be done.

In May 2013, a Ministerial Policy Directive was issued to all planning authorities, reminding them of their statutory obligations under Part VIII of the Act relating to enforcement. The Directive required that planning authorities ensure that sufficient and appropriate human resources are made available for enforcement purposes. It also required planning authorities to undertake appropriate monitoring of planning enforcement and directed them to prioritise large-scale unauthorised development and enforcement cases.

I am satisfied that planning authorities have sufficient enforcement powers at their disposal under the existing legislation. Further to the Policy Directive referred to, it is a matter for planning authorities to ensure that they assign appropriate resources for effective planning enforcement.