Housing and Planning Minister launches new initiatives to enhance co-ordination and oversight of Irish Planning System

Jan O’Sullivan TD, Minister for Housing and Planning, today (Wednesday 4 April 2012) launched two new initiatives to enhance co-ordination and oversight of the Irish planning system.


The Minister launched:


(1)  Myplan.ie a new and free planning information system for the public on the details of all of the 400+ development plans and local area plans across the country; and


(2)  The report of the Regional Authorities on the implementation of the 2010 Planning and Development (Amendment) Act in tackling previously excessive and unco-ordinated zoning.


Speaking at the launch, the Minister said that “Planning has a vital role to play in our economic recovery. The planning process is the focus of much discussion and debate at present for both good and bad reasons. Needless to say, the publication of the Mahon Tribunal’s findings have significantly heightened the importance of not only ensuring but demonstrating that Ireland’s planning system is open, transparent and compliant with legal requirements”.


Myplan.ie is a new free online service where the 400+ statutory development plans can be viewed, compared and analysed. Launching the initiative, Minister O’Sullivan said that “for the first time in the history of this country, we have brought together around 1000 maps in 400 plans from 88 planning authorities in a free, simple, easy-to-use service”.


She added that “We need to make it straightforward for the public, for professionals, for everybody to see what the planning system is doing. Myplan will produce a much more open and transparent way of tracking the integration of plans across the country and is, I believe, a game changer in terms of how the public will view the operation of the forward planning system”.


The Minister also launched a report on the implementation of 2010 Regional Planning Guidelines and pointed out that the report indicated that significant progress was being made in tackling the legacy of Celtic Tiger era planning that was typified by “the planning system’s addiction to zoning as opposed to real planning for communities”. This led to a peak of 42,058 hectares of land zoned for housing by 2009 representing an oversupply of 4.5 times actual need. The Minister pointed out that following concerted efforts by her Department, Regional Authorities and Local Authorities, there was now a much more co-ordinated and evidence-based approach to local planning where local authorities had now signed up to an overall land requirement for housing to meet future needs of 11,113 hectares, where 5,159 hectares had actually been de-zoned and where other excessive land zoning would be tackled in the year ahead through reviews of local area plans, pointing out that “that’s when this reform process is going to get tough, changing zoning maps that hark back to the bad old days of developer-led, Celtic Tiger era planning”.


The Minister noted that increased clarity in the responsibility of councils to have reasonable, evidence-based plans should reduce the need for ministerial intervention, but added that “this does not automatically rule out the need for future intervention, especially to ensure that there is consistency between local and county development plans”, and that Department officials would be monitoring the situation closely.


The Minister also pointed out that there are still eight city and county councils who, while having started the core strategy process under the 2010 legislation to review their zonings at city or county plan level, have not completed that process within statutory timeframes adding that she will be communicating with the Chairs and Managers of these local authorities in the days ahead on the importance of ensuring that the legislation is complied with.





What is the background to the report

Government places a high degree of importance on the role of the planning process in supporting regional and national economic recovery, through greater co-ordination between the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), Regional Planning Guidelines (RPGs) and local Development Plans as envisaged in the 2010 Planning and Development (Amendment) Act.


Regional Authorities now have an important role within the process of preparing and varying local authority Development Plans and ensuring proper oversight of the alignment of Plans at national, regional and local levels through the incorporation of new Core Strategies and relevant objectives from the 2010 RPGs into the local Development


Impact of Core Strategy Reviews

The central aim of the Core Strategies, now required for each Development Plan, is to align defined population and housing targets from the RPGs with an appropriate quantum of zoned land, having regard to other considerations such as appropriate densities, sequential development, existing and planned infrastructural provision and defined settlement hierarchies.


Alignment of planning policy between the Region and County/City levels has resulted in a significant revision to the amount of land zoned, or potential number of housing units to be made available for future residential housing under the plan-led approach to development



26 of the 34 City and County Development Plans have adopted Core Strategies with the remaining 8 at various stages of preparation and the majority scheduled for final adoption by the end of 2012.


27 of the 56 Borough and Town Development Plans have Core Strategies adopted with the balance of 29 also due for completion by early 2013.

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