Sunday 12 November 2006

Strategic Development Zones and Irish planning

Strategic Development Zones and Irish planning

A new type of planning scheme emerged in the 2000 Planning and Development Act for the pre land-use planning of large areas. This was the concept of the Strategic Development Zone, which is laid out in sections 165-171 of the 2000 Act.

Note: Section 166 of the Act says: where, in the opinion of the Government, specified development is of economic or social importance to the State, the Government may be order, when so proposed by the Minister, designate one or more sites for the establishment, in accordance with the provisions of this Part, of a strategic development zone to facilitate such development. Development Agencies (there’s a list of bodies in section 165) then have to institute the process (this process is detailed in the Act).

It is a master planning concept which aims to create sustainable communities. A planning scheme prepared for an SDZ indicates in detail the manner in which a Council considers the lands should be developed. It has a number of important features that make it distinct from the normal planning system for development:

· A SDZ forms part of the development plan in force in the area of the scheme and it supersedes any contrary provisions of the development plan.

· There is NO APPEAL opportunity to An Bord Pleanala against the decision of the Planning Authority on an individual planning application for development within an SDZ.

· The Planning Authority can use any powers available to it (including CPO procedures) for the purposes of providing, securing or facilitating the provision of the SDZ.

· An authority may enter into agreements with landowners to facilitate the development of the SDZ. It is envisaged that such agreements will form part of the draft planning scheme and will relate to several matters including the phasing of development.

What does a SDZ planning scheme include?

(2) A draft planning scheme under this section shall consist of a written statement and a plan indicating the manner in which it is intended that the site is to be developed and in particular—

(a) the type or types of development and extent of such which may be permitted to establish on the site.

(b) proposals in relation to the overall design of the proposed development (maximum heights, the external finishes of structures and the general appearance and design).

(c) proposals relating to transportation, the roads layout, the provision of parking spaces and traffic management/

(d) proposals relating to the provision of services on the site

(e) proposals relating to minimising any adverse effects on the environment

(f) where the scheme provides for residential development, proposals relating to the provision of amenities, facilities and services for the community, including schools, créches and other education and childcare services. And consistent with the authority’s housing strategy.

(3) A draft planning scheme shall also contain information on any likely significant impacts on the environment.

The best way I can think of for explaining an SDZ is to describe one in action. Let’s take Adamstown.

The lands at Adamstown were zoned “to provide for new residential communities in accordance with approved Action Area Plans” in the South Dublin County Development Plan 1998. South Dublin County Council adopted a Local Area Plan for the lands at Adamstown in July 2001. The Government designated Adamstown as a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), also in July 2001.

As SDZ Development Agency, South Dublin County Council prepared a draft Planning Scheme for Adamstown in December 2002. The draft Planning Scheme was displayed in public until February 2003, during which time submissions were received. Reports on submissions received - Manager’s Report and Supplementary Manager’s Report on submissions dated March 2003 and April 2003 respectively - were submitted to the elected members of South Dublin County Council, in March and April 2003. The reports proposed changes to the draft Planning Scheme and the elected members proposed further changes in the form of motions during April 2003.

Further to several Council meetings at which all proposed changes were considered, the elected members of South Dublin County Council decided to adopt the draft Planning Scheme subject to variations and modifications in May 2003.

The decision of South Dublin County Council to adopt the draft Planning Scheme was appealed to An Bord Pleanala in June 2003. An Bord Pleanala held an Oral Hearing in respect of the draft Planning Scheme in July 2003 and approved the Scheme in September 2003. The first planning application for development within the Adamstown SDZ was submitted to South Dublin County Council by Castlethorn Construction Ltd in June 2004 and granted planning permission in September 2004 - planning permission was granted for 407 dwelling units on a ten-hectare site together with a significant section of the Adamstown station access road and QBC. The permission includes a range of dwelling types and 77 social and affordable housing units.


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