A draft Planning and Development Bill was approved by the Government in December and is expected to be officially published in January 2023.
In its plan, ‘Housing for All’, the Government committed to a review and consolidation of planning law in Ireland. According to the Government, if the Bill is enacted, it “will bring greater clarity, consistency and certainty to how planning decisions are made” and the planning system will be “more coherent and user-friendly” for both the public and professionals.
Some of the noteworthy provisions of the Bill are listed below:
- A distinction between different categories of planning consent to include: standard planning applications; applications made directly to An Bord Pleanála; alterations, extensions; revocations of permissions; and local authority / State authority developments.
- Ministerial guidelines and policy directives will be approved by the Government and will be upgraded to ‘National Planning Policy Statements’ and ‘National Planning Policy Guidelines’.
- Local Development Plans to be extended from six years to ten years, with a review after year five. Local Area Plans will be replaced by specific types of area-based plans to meet particular needs: Urban Area Plans; Priority Area Plans; Joint Area Plans; and Strategic Development Zones / Urban Development Zones.
- Statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes (including for An Bord Pleanála decisions and appeals) to be introduced. An Bord Pleanála will be subject to fines for failure to comply with the timelines. The exact timelines to be finalised in the Bill.
- Judicial review timelines to be introduced for pleadings, hearing of cases and delivery of judgments by the courts. An Bord Pleanála or a local authority, as appropriate, will have the authority to correct an error of fact or law in a planning decision. Cost protection for judicial review cases will also be introduced. This means that there will be no order for costs in any proceedings unless the court considers the proceedings are frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process.
- An Bord Pleanála will be restructured and renamed An Coimsiún Pleanála. The organisational structure of the agency will be reformed and it is intended that the decision-making and governance structure of the agency will be separated.
- Increased capacity for local authorities to utilise compulsory purchase orders.
The draft Bill has been hailed by the Government as a necessary reform and modernisation of the current planning framework, which dates back to 2000, but has been amended many times since then. It aims to take account of the demands of various strategic infrastructure needs while aligning with more recent environmental and EU legislation in order to meet Ireland’s needs for decades into the future.
Enactment of the Bill in January 2023 is the Government’s stated timeframe.
For further information, please contact Gemma Forde or Emer Wilkie.