Wednesday 22 March 2023

Publication of Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022

 The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, the Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Kieran O’Donnell, and the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, have welcomed the publication of the Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022.

The Bill, if enacted, will bring greater clarity, consistency and certainty to how planning decisions are made. It will make the planning system more coherent and user-friendly for the public and planning practitioners.

The summary of the main provisions in the Draft Bill is as follows:

  • Strengthened legal status for Ministerial guidelines: Ministerial guidelines and policy directives will be upgraded to ‘National Planning Policy Statements’ and ‘National Planning Policy Guidance’.
  • Amended focus and lifespan of Local Development Plans: these will be extended from six to ten years, with a review after year five.
  • Local Area Plans will be replaced by specific types of area-based plans to meet particular needs, for example, Urban Area Plans, Priority Area Plans, Joint Area Plans, Strategic Development Zones/Urban Development Zones.
  • Statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes, including An Bord Pleanála decisions, to bring certainty to the planning consent process. Where An Bord Pleanála fails to make decisions within these timelines, it will be subject to fines. The exact timelines will be included in the finalised Bill.
  • Changes to Judicial Reviews (JRs) of planning decisions, including timelines for various steps in the JR process. An Bord Pleanála will be able to correct an error of fact or law in a planning decision and will be able to apply for a stay on the determination of JR proceedings whilst making such corrections.
  • A re-structuring of An Bord Pleanála will be re-named An Coimisiún Pleanála, and its decision-making and governance structures will be separated.
  • Clearer distinction between different categories of consents, such as Standard Planning Application, Applications made directly to An Bord Pleanála, Alterations, extensions and revocations of permissions and local authority and State authority developments.
  • Costs protection in JR cases: costs protection for judicial review cases, providing that there will not be any order for costs in any such proceedings unless the Court considers that the proceedings are frivolous or vexatious or an abuse of process.
  • Increased clarity regarding environment assessments in the planning process: greater integration of the scope and role of environmental assessments into plan-making functions and the consenting process.
Increased capacity for local authorities to utilise Compulsory Purchase Orders in pursuance of their functions, for example, to acquire vacant or derelict properties for onward sale, for example, to develop for residential use.

Minister O’Brien has formally requested pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Bill by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. This will commence over the coming weeks before proceeding before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

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