Large-scale Residential Developments (LRDs)

June 18, 2024

OVERVIEW

Large-scale residential developments (LRDs) were introduced in December 2021, under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2021 (Commencement) Order 2021 and associated, supporting Planning and Development (Large-scale Residential Development) Regulations 2021. The LRD process is mandatory for all planning applications on residential zoned land comprising 100 or more housing units or 200 or more student accommodation bed spaces. The LRD process replaced the SHD process in 2021. In order to minimise requests for further information and refusals, so as to streamline the process, LRDs are required to undergo detailed pre-planning stages prior to lodgement as follows:

Since the introduction of the LRD process, John Spain Associates has internally reviewed and analysed LRD applications and appeals made to the following planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála (ABP):

This planning insight provides an overview of this research and analyses the success of the LRD process to the 31st of May 2024 in terms of securing grants of planning permission and the delivery of housing across these local authorities.

KEY FINDINGS

The LRD application process appears to be working efficiently and effectively for applications in most cases.

  1. TIMELINES – All LRD applications have been determined by local planning authorities within their statutory 8-week period (or within 4 weeks [or 8 weeks in respect of an application subject to EIAR/NIS] of receipt of further information following a FI request). Only 33% of LRD applications have been subject to further information requests. All LRD appeals have also been determined within their statutory objective 16-week period by An Bord Pleanála, with the exception of 2 no. which were deferred by the board.
  2. GRANTS OF PERMISSION – LRDs have a final grant rate of 86.8% compared to 74.6% of SHDs.
  3. JUDICIAL REVIEWS – 6 no. LRDs have been judicially challenged (11.3% of decided LRDs) compared to 22.8% of the 460 no. decided SHD applications (or compared to 45.7% of decided SHDs in 2021).
  4. HOUSING DELIVERY – The LRD process has secured permission for c. 16,900 residential units (78.1% apartments, 21.9% houses) and 989 no. student bed spaces, at an average net density of 105 uph, since its introduction.

A total of 90 no. LRD applications have been processed by the surveyed planning authorities, excluding SHD amendment applications.

  • 11 no. applications are live and before the irrespective local planning authorities (12%).
  • 46 no. applications have a final grant of permission from a local authority / ABP (51%).
  • 7 no. have been refused outright post-appeal stage (8%), whilst no split decisions have been issued.
  • 3 no. are currently within the 4-week appeal period (3%)and 18 no. are before the Board at appeal (20%).

6 no. decided LRDs have been Judicially Reviewed. This is 11.3% of decided cases. This is a significant reduction from the number of JR challenges in recent years for SHD decisions (45.7% of decided SHDs in 2021).

LRD APPLICATIONS (EXCLUDING SHD AMENDMENTS &APPEALS) – QUANTITATIVE AND SPATIAL ANALYSIS

  • A total of 90 no. LRD applications (excluding SHD amendment applications) have been made to the surveyed planning authorities, with 79 no. decided (88%) and 11 no. live and awaiting a decision (12%).
  • 30 no. or 33% of all applications were subject to a Further Information Request.
  • Of the decided LRD applications by the relevant local authority (prior to appeal), 59 no. have been granted (75%), 19 no. refused (24%) and 1 no. issued with a split decision (1%). Following appeal, grants of permission rise to 86.8% of overall decided cases, while decisions to refuse permission fall to 13.2%.
  • In terms of the surveyed planning authorities, Dublin City Council has received the most applications (22 no. / 24.4%), followed by Kildare and Fingal County Councils (10 no. each / 11.1%), South Dublin County Council (8 no. / 8.9%) and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (7 no. / 7.8% each).
  • The highest rates of permissions granted are observed in Wicklow, Waterford and Limerick (100%), followed by Kildare (80%) and South Dublin (75% each).

The highest rates of refusal are observed in Galway City (100%), followed by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (43%) and Dublin City (27%).

LRD APPEALS

  • A total of 66 no. appeals have been made to ABP in respect of LRD applications, excluding SHD amendment applications.
  • 40 no. appeals were made by a third party (60.6%), 23 no. by a first party (34.8%) and 3 no. comprising a combination of third and first party appeals (4.5%).
  • 48 no. appeals have been decided, with 35 no. granted (73%), 7 no. refused (15%) and 6 no. withdrawn (12%).
  • The Board has upheld the decision of the planning authority in all but 4 no. appeals. The Board granted permission in all four of these appeals.
  • Decisions determined by Dublin City Council have been subject to the most appeals (19 no. / 91%) followed by Kildare County Council (8 no. / 80%).
  • 64 no. LRD appeals were determined within the statutory objective 16-week period. The remaining 2 no. were deferred by the board.

COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS WITH SHD’s

  • Similar analysis conducted by JSA in relation to SHDs indicate a total of 518 no. SHD applications made to ABP with 460 no. (88.8%) being decided and 58 no. (11.2%) still live and before the Board. Of the 460 no. decided applications, 340 no. (74.6%) have been granted, 115 no. (24.3%) have been refused and 5 no. (1.1%) were issued with a split decision.
  • To date, just 6 no. LRDs (11.3% of decided LRD applications) have been subjected to judicial review proceedings in the High Court in comparison to 22.8% of the 460 no. decided SHDs (or compared to 45.7% of decided SHD applications in 2021), or approximately 30% of the overall SHD permissions to grant.
  • Of the 6 no. LRDs judicially challenged, 1 no. case was withdrawn and a final grant issued, with 5 no. still before the courts. No LRD permission has been quashed to date.
  • Of the 105 no. SHD judicial reviews, 52 no. have resulted in a permission being quashed and/or a successful litigation (95% of determined cases, excluding withdrawals), 3 no. permissions upheld (5%), with 14 no. withdrawn and 36 no. pending.

The LRD process has worked well and efficiently since its introduction and has resulted in c. 16,900 residential units being granted, comprising 13,320 no. apartments/duplexes (78.4%) and 3,656 no. houses (21.6%), and 989 no. student bed spaces, resulting in average net density of c. 105 uph across the surveyed planning authorities.

John Spain Associates are continuing to monitor LRD applications and appeals as they are made to their relevant planning authorities and the Board, and are knowledgeable and experienced in securing planning permission for LRDs throughout Ireland.

A downloadable copy of this insights piece is available here.
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