‘Speed up planning process’ to help solve the housing crisis says Michael O’Flynn

Michael O'Flynn said he predicted a housing crisis four years ago 'and people thought I was losing it'. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A fast-track planning process with applications decided on by a special division of An Bord Pleanála would help solve the housing crisis, property developer Michael O’Flynn has said.

Legislation could be amended to allow developers lodge applications directly to the board, bypassing local authorities, and that this could “bring forward tens of thousands of houses quickly”, he said.

Currently projects given strategic infrastructure status by the board, such as the proposed incinerator in Ringaskiddy, make their applications directly to the board. Mr Flynn said a similar system would be set up for the next couple of years to tackle the housing crisis “because this [housing] is strategic infrastructure”.

Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Mr Flynn said the planning system was not working and that there was not enough land available with funded infrastructure to deliver development.

He said he was suggesting a “drastic measure”, that a special unit could be resourced within the board to act as “a one-stop shop in terms of dealing with planning” with the housing minister acting as executive chair of a committee that could examine any “blockages” that arose around implementing those plans, and that implementation deadlines could be put in place.

His proposed system did not involve taking any third parties out of the process he said.

‘Speed up planning process’ to help solve the housing crisis says Michael O’Flynn

“People are homeless, that shouldn’t be the case. There are social houses, that shouldn’t be the case. This [proposed] system can be used to resolve homelessness, to resolve the social [housing] and I can tell you from dealing with experts on those areas, that can be funded.” Mr O’Flynn said without adopting this direct planning approach “you are never going to solve the problem”.

The Corkman, MD of the O’ Flynn Group, blamed the banks for causing the property crisis rather than developers “even though people want to suggest it was the other way around”.

He is back building in Cork and Dublin with funding largely from New York-based Avenue Capital Group.

Mr O’Flynn said there were a “number of fundamental issues around housing” and that while the last government talked a good game, they “did little about it and that’s the blunt reality”.

He said the problem was land was too expensive and there wasn’t enough land zoned in Ireland with infrastructure in the right place.

He said he predicted a housing crisis four years ago “and people thought I was losing it”.

Mr O’Flynn said speeding up the planning application process was now the “key to the housing crisis”.

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