Ireland has created an independent Office of the Planning Regulator, and it could be the catalyst in a transformation of the way members of the public and politicians understand planning, says Aidan Culhane. It is profoundly to be hoped that the least-commented-upon functions of Ireland’s new independent Office of the Planning Regulator will become its most important – research and education. The Planning and Development Act 2018 empowers the regulator “to undertake research and conduct programmes of education in respect of proper planning and sustainable development”. This could be transformative in developing an understanding of planning principles among the public, and advancing knowledge across the construction and development sector. Imagine what could be achieved with a well-resourced office charged with promoting planning across society. Imagine what a cutting-edge research programme could do in terms of developing the planning response to climate change, carbon-neutral cities, new housing and settlement patterns, smart cities and how we will live, work, and play.
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