The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley TD is to initiate a review of how planning laws and policy are being implemented by a number of local authorities around the country. Minister Gormley is to use powers granted to him under planning legislation to undertake the review, which will involve the appointment of independent planning experts.
The review, which will involve a cross-section of authorities, will focus on how existing planning legislation, Government policy and guidelines are being implemented and to determine whether local authorities are acting in a consistent and transparent manner, and whether they have the correct powers and tools to deliver on their responsibilities.
Representations and submissions on various planning issues which have been received from NGOs and members of the public are being used to shape the review, and to assist in looking, in particular, at the preparation of and adherence to development plan policies, how these plans take account of national policy and guidance, and how planning applications are assessed in accordance with these policies and with planning legislation generally.
Minister Gormley is writing to a number of local authorities asking them for their views on these issues. The minister is using powers available under section 255 of the Planning Act, which allows him to seek information from local authorities as to the operation of their own systems and procedures. The purpose of the review is not to examine particular planning decisions but to assess the processes and systems that enable such decisions to be made.
“I believe this review is very important in that it comes alongside a range of other planning reforms. A new planning bill is before the Houses of the Oireachtas, and a range of new planning guidelines have been issued in recent years by the department,” says Minister Gormley. “I am anxious to ensure that these laws and guidelines are implemented in a consistent and transparent manner. This review will be fundamental to ensuring this.”
When these reviews are completed, they will inform a broader policy examination of the implementation of planning law, development plans and the associated management systems and procedures and indicate what further steps are warranted to ensure consistent implementation by planning authorities in general.
The planning authorities selected cover urban as well as rural areas, which are both large and small, covering different planning procedures.
The six authorities are: Dublin City Council, Carlow County Council, Galway County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Meath County Council. The Councils will be asked to examine the issues raised with the Department and provide a detailed response within 4 weeks (ie by mid-July).
Once these reports are received, the Minister will then appoint independent planning experts to review the replies received from the local authorities concerned, and where specific issues or concerns arise regarding previous practices, to make recommendations to inform the preparation of any necessary actions, policy guidance and direction.