Grand plans for Ireland have been written on a cyclical basis over the decades. So far, we have failed to deliver. History would suggest that to be successful we need to take politics out of development. Planning, and plan making, is complex and everyone has a view. In practice, it is a balance between what individuals and communities want on one hand, usually in their own interest, and the evidence-based assessment by professionals of what is in the common good on the other. Grand plans for Ireland have been written on a cyclical basis over the decades. So far, we have failed to deliver. History would suggest that to be successful we need to take politics out of development. We need an evidence and intelligence-based approach to investment decisions that protects development from the excesses of ‘representation’. When Ireland 2040 was announced, the Irish Planning Institute warned of the danger that history could repeat itself. We must guard against it becoming a catch-all fund for development led by politics rather than a blueprint for development based on good planning. The protection against falling into that trap is to have a nationally coordinated professional framework of administration for planning that feeds into and influences decision-making on public investment. That framework will enable, support, coordinate and control consistent evidence-based development. It will marry national and local interests and help underpin the case of provable development needs by aligning professional development experts, public administration and capital to work together in delivering solutions.
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