An Bord Pleanála needs to be scrapped and replaced with a new ‘fit for purpose modern organisation’ that can make decisions quickly, according to a Government minister.
Niall Collins was speaking after a report into alleged conflicts of interest at the planning authority was handed over to Gardaí, the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The report examines the alleged failure of the authority’s former deputy chair Paul Hyde to declare certain assets as he was legally required to do as a member of the board.
Mr Hyde resigned his position while the report was being compiled but has rejected any suggestion that he breached his duties.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, junior minister Niall Collins said the planning authority is not fit for purpose and should be scrapped.
He said the fundamental structural problem with the authority is that it is not required to decide on any planning application by any defined date.
As a result, he said, the authority constantly misses deadlines and is a barrier to progress and development in Ireland.
“It has the option and the ability to keep pushing out the due deadline date by which it must make an adjudication on an appeal or planning application,” he said. “That’s causing huge delays on the ground.”
“Somebody might have a small issue in relation to an extension for a house or a planning application for a small number of houses - you know, people who are seeking to provide housing in this country - and it is delay, delay, delay.
“There is a fundamental problem with how it operates and I think, given all that we know that is in the public domain in relation to the other shortcomings in An Bord Pleanála that are going through various processes at the moment, I think we need to have the organisation scrapped and replaced with a fit for purpose modern organisation to fit the needs of our society.”
The Minister of State said the recent revelations surround the authority have shaken public confidence in it – but insisted the fundamental issue with it one of time delay.
“They are not time-bound in relation to any of these key, critical decision and that is something that I would like to see,” he said.
“A major reform of An Bord Pleanála in terms of how they go about their day-to-day work would be putting a time limit on when they have to make a decision on an appeal or planning application before them.”
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