Gormley announces details of new planning bill

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Environment minister John Gormley yesterday announced details of the government's latest planning and development bill. The Bill introduces a number of changes to the planning code that "aim to support sustainable development".

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Environment minister John Gormley yesterday announced details of the government's latest planning and development bill. The Bill introduces a number of changes to the planning code that "aim to support sustainable development".

Key elements of the bill include:

  • The making or variation of a development plan, or local area plan, will require the support of two-thirds of the relevant local authority as opposed to a simple majority
  • In the preparation, making and variation of a local development plan, the local authority manager’s report will indicate the extent to which the draft plan complies with the National Spatial Strategy (NSS), regional planning and ministerial guidelines. Growth scenarios, transport plans and rural development must be dealt with in the plan.
  • The views of the environment minister will be dealt with separately in the manager's report. This will allow for a response to any ministerial concerns at an early stage
The minister also highlighted other key changes that will be dealt with in the bill, some of which will be introduced as the bill passes through the Oireachtas, including:
  • Development plans must now contain mandatory objectives for the promotion of sustainable settlement and transportation strategies in urban and rural areas, including appropriate measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Retention for unauthorised development which was flagrantly in breach of the planning acts will be subject to a significant penalty
  • Local authorities will be provided with the flexibility to use development levies, if needed, on a broader range of infrastructure such as schools, school sites, broadband provision and flood relief works
  • The powers of a local authority to refuse planning permission to applicants who have been convicted of serious breaches of planning legislation are strengthened.
"A sound development plan is the key to ensuring good planning at local level," the minister said. "Decisions taken at development plan stage affect all other planning decisions."

"I have had occasion since coming into office to use ministerial powers of direction under the planning acts to vary development plans where, for example, there has been excessive or inappropriate zonings. I make no apology for that. I am conscious, however, of the importance of exercising these powers in as open and transparent a way as possible."

Minister Gormley continued: "This new process also takes full account of the recommendations of the joint oireachtas committee on environment, heritage and local government in their March 2009 report on this issue."

Last modified on Friday, 29 May 2009 11:10

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