Dáil Éireann - Volume 608 - 20 October, 2005

Written Answers - Housing Estates.

  198. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps that are being taken by his Department to help city and county councils to get builders to properly finish off housing estates to allow the local council to take them in hand. [29895/05]

  Mr. Roche: Developers of housing estates have the primary responsibility for ensuring that these are completed. The Planning and Development Act 2000 contains significant provisions which enable planning authorities to require developers to complete housing estates: for example, a planning authority may require as a condition of a planning permission for the development of an estate that the development be satisfactorily completed within a period of not less than two years from the commencement of works.

The Act also enables a planning authority to attach conditions requiring the giving of adequate security for the satisfactory completion of a development and, if the development is not subsequently satisfactorily completed, may apply the security to ensure its satisfactory completion. It is a matter for the relevant planning authority to impose conditions and similarly to ensure that adequate security for the completion of estates is obtained.

It should also be noted that the provisions concerning the enforcement of planning control in general have been considerably strengthened in the 2000 Act. Fines have been greatly increased, planning authorities are now obliged to follow up [602] genuine complaints about breaches of planning control within a given timeframe and also are entitled to retain fines imposed by courts for planning offences.

Moreover, the fact that an application for retention permission has been made is no longer a defence to a prosecution for unauthorised development. Planning authorities may also refuse to grant planning permission, subject to the consent of the High Court, to any developer who has seriously failed to comply with a previous permission.

Finally, under section 180 of the Act, planning authorities may refuse to take an estate in charge until it is completed to its satisfaction. If after a period of seven years, the estate has not been completed satisfactorily by the developer, a planning authority must, if requested to do so by the majority of the qualified electors who are owners or occupiers of the houses involved, initiate the procedures for taking an estate in charge. This provision ensures that planning authorities have sufficient time to require developers to complete estates.