An Bórd Pleanala (ABP) chief Oonagh Buckley will question whether taxpayers should be footing the bill to developers for delays in making decisions on planning applications.

The planning board has a deadline of 18 weeks to make a decision on appeals for most cases.

It is due to pay out €1.4m to developers due to delayed decisions on Strategic Housing Developments (SHDs) – which have since been abolished.

Oonagh Buckley, who was recently appointed interim chairperson of ABP, will question whether fines are the best way to tackle delays.

“In past years, when operating without a backlog, the board did not meet the standard operating timeline in 100pc of cases,” she will tell TDs and Senators at the Dáil’s Housing Committee on Thursday.

“That does raise the question: is an approach whereby fines from the public purse are paid to developers the best way to deal with delays, or are there other effective measures that could be taken to ensure that the future Commission works to its mandated timelines in the majority of cases and that its management is accountable for delivering that?”

More “complex” developments need further information or even an oral hearing so that the “full range of outcomes” can be examined.

“Such cases will by their very nature take longer than the mandated timeframes,” politicians will be told.

The controversial planning appeals body is in the process of being overhauled and will be renamed An Coimisiún Pleanála.

Ms Buckley will also say it is important to ensure “adequate staffing and timely appointment of commissioners”.

The Dáil’s Housing Committee will tomorrow continue its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Planning and Development Bill.

The Office of the Planning Regulator said ABP planning timelines “take proper account of the time needed to make proper and robust decisions that will stand any legal scrutiny”.

There needs to be “certainty” around planning rather than “unrealistic deadlines”.

“The key is to provide certainty around the planning process rather than set unrealistic deadlines which could lead to rushed rather than the right decisions,” the regulator will tell the committee.


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