Housing Minister Simon Coveney is facing growing calls to amend new legislation that will allow planning applications for large housing developments of more than 100 homes to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála rather than to local councils.
Independent Councillor Mae Sexton says the bill, if passed, could have far reaching repercussions for small, rural counties like Longford.
"It completely abolishes the local authority's legislative input and the democratic right of the citizen to determine whether such large scale developments are appropriate and sustainable in their own area and have the jobs, hospital, schools and all relevant infrastructure to sustain them," she said.
Mr Coveney has already brought the draft heads of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 before Cabinet despite mounting concerns from local councillors.
Under the plans, developers will be charged with holding initial informal discussions with local councils.
When discussions have concluded and been completed within a nine week timeframe, a decision must be made to determine whether the application should proceed.
Cllr Sexton says the Housing Minister effectively "let the cat out of the bag" as to the plans finer details when insisting building houses was becoming too costly in urban centres compared to more rural settings.
"In effect what he is saying is that while the fatcat and vulture fund developers in the cities – the very people who brought this country to its knees less than a decade ago – continue to be allowed sit on the very extensive landbanks that would relieve the housing crisis in the cities,the Government drags its heels on introducing a Bill with penalties to force them to use or lose their lands," she stated.
Cllr Sexton said the Mr Coveney's Bill was unworkable in its present guise, saying the lessons of Ireland's Celtic-Tiger past had not been heeded.
"Sustainable balanced development must be the primary goal of any local authority and government. How quickly they have forgotten the debacle of the last decade and the ghost estates," she said.
"This Planning Bill must be suspended until the promised “site tax levy” Bill is enacted in tandem with it."
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