Integrated Area Plans (IAPs) and Irish planning
Integrated Area Plans (IAPs) have the same statutory footing as local plans, in other words, they must be considered in assessing planning applications. In this regard, they are mentioned in the same section of the Act as local plans. However, and interestingly, IAPs emerge from the Urban Renewal Act 1998. Under section 7 of that Act, a local authority or, at the request of that local authority, an authorised company, may prepare and submit to the Minister one or more integrated area plans in respect of an area or areas within the functional area of the local authority. Like local plans it can include with their consent, the areas of other local authorities.
IAPs are prepared by authorities or authorised companies according to criteria which the Minister specifies in writing and those criteria may include criteria with respect to the social and economic renewal of the area to which the plan relates. It must specify the physical, economic, social and other issues which, in the opinion of the local authority or company, are relevant to the renewal of the area to which it relates. An IAP consists of a written statement and a plan indicating the objectives for: (a) the social and economic renewal, on a sustainable basis, of the area to which the plan relates, and (b) improvements in the physical environment of that area. It can also include objectives for:
(i) objectives for the renewal, preservation, conservation, restoration, development or redevelopment of the streetscape, layout and building pattern, including the co-ordination and upgrading of shop frontages,
(ii) guidelines with respect to the heights of buildings and to building materials, density of developments and the treatment of spaces between buildings,
(iii) objectives relating to the preservation of the natural, architectural and archaeological heritage,
(iv) objectives for promoting the development or redevelopment of derelict sites or vacant sites,
(v) objectives for employment, training and education, particularly for persons resident in the area,
(vi) objectives for the improvement of existing residential communities and the development of new such communities, including the development of housing for people of different social backgrounds,
(vii) objectives for the development of community facilities,
(viii) objectives for the improvement of the environment, infrastructure and transportation,
IAPs must indicate the nature and extent of the investment required to achieve the objectives specified in the plan. In preparing an integrated area plan the local authority or authorised company concerned may consult with such other persons as appear to it to be concerned with or interested in the matter and shall have regard to any submissions or observations made to it by such persons in the course of that consultation.
The major differences between a local plan and an IAP are:
(1) IAPs include recommendations to the Minister in respect of qualifying areas for the purposes of urban renewal tax reliefs (relief that is from income or corporation taxes – 12.5% until 2025 is quite an enticement!) of under Part 10 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. It may propose a part, parts or the whole area receive tax incentive status. The Minister will then carry these recommendations to the Minister for Finance. Such plans can also call for certain developments to be offered remission of rates (on a staggered basis over ten years) to attract them in to the area. Importantly, no relief from income tax or corporation tax, as the case may be, may be granted under Chapter 7 of Part 10 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, in respect of the construction, refurbishment or conversion of a building, structure or house unless the local authority or authorized company which prepared the integrated area plan concerned has certified in writing, that such construction, refurbishment or conversion is consistent with the objectives of the IAP.
(2) Section 17 of the Urban Renewal Act provides that the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, make grants to a local authority or any other body concerned with the promotion of the conservation of buildings or structures, for the purpose of defraying, in whole or in part, the expenditure incurred by it in: (a) the promotion of urban and village renewal, including physical, economic and social renewal, or (b) the conservation of buildings or structures of artistic, architectural or historical interest.