Local representatives have called the removal of public consultation from council housing projects ‘undemocratic’. The comments were made by People Before Profit Councillor Madeleine Johansson after several housing projects have been proposed by South Dublin County Council under the new Part 8 derogation.
The Part 8 derogation introduced by the government means that new housing projects will not be open for public consultation and there will be no vote by local councillors. Under the normal Part 8 system the council would have to open all proposals to an 8 week public consultation before local councillors finally vote to approve, amend or not approve the planning proposal. Under the new system housing projects can simply be decided by council management without input from either the public or elected representatives.
Several projects in the South Dublin County Council area will be going ahead under the new system including at Sarsfield Park in Lucan and Bawnogue in Clondalkin.
Councillor Madeleine Johansson commented: “The new system of planning housing projects is completely undemocratic. It means that members of the public and local councillors will have no official input into the projects. I think people should have the right to have their views heard about issues that affect them and their local area.
“While the government has said that this is a temporary measure I’m very concerned that it will be extended beyond 2024. This is yet another removal of power from local councillors to unelected council managers. Ireland has one of the most centralised systems of local government in Europe. It’s very concerning that even more powers are now being given to unelected officials.”
People Before Profit TD for Dublin Midwest Gino Kenny said: “I have found that the old Part 8 system with the public consultation worked very well. People got to have a say in the proposals and often the projects were changed and amended to make them better after the input from local residents and councillors. It’s not good to remove public consultations and leave people without a voice.
“The government has said that this is needed to speed up housing projects. In reality delays in housing construction has not been because of public consultations but because of the Department and the Minister for Housing. For example, the new housing being built in Balgaddy was approved by councillors in May 2019 after a period of public consultation of about 3 months. It then took almost 4 years for construction to start because of delays in getting funding approval by the Department of Housing. This is completely unacceptable and removing the public consultation isn’t going to do anything to change this.”