Planning and Development Bill

Outline of the proposed Planning and Development Bill December 2022

Some of the Main Provisions in the Bill

Strengthened legal status for Ministerial guidelines: Ministerial guidelines and policy directives will be upgraded to ‘National Planning Policy Statements’ and ‘National Planning Policy Guidance’. These will be approved by Government. Alignment of other planning documents with these will be mandatory.

Amended focus and lifespan of Local Development Plans: these will be extended from six years to ten years, with a review after Year 5.

Local Area Plans will be replaced by specific types of area-based plans to meet particular needs (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 (ABP) decisions, to bring certainty to the planning consent process: timelines are being introduced for appeals and consents applications made to ABP (including Strategic Infrastructure Developments). Where ABP fails to make decisions with these timelines, it will be subject to fines.

Changes to Judicial Reviews (JRs) of planning decisions: there will be timelines for various steps in the Judicial Review process. ABP 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. The Bill will bring clarity to the role of different parties in accessing justice. In the case of applications for JRs by an organisation, these will have to be taken by an individual or individuals.

Taking account of the Aarhus provisions, clarity is brought to the role of different parties in accessing justice, and the provisions regarding standing will be updated to provide that a Judicial Review can be taken either by a person affected by the application or by an environmental NGO who meets certain criteria in relation to its establishment and its purposes.

A re-structuring of An Bord Pleanála: the agency will be re-named An Coimisiún Pleanála and its decision-making and governance structures separated. It will consist of Planning Commissioners (consisting of a Chief Planning Commissioner and up to 14 full-time Planning Commissioners), who will replace the Chairperson and Board Member roles. A new Governing Executive (led by a Chief Executive) will be responsible for the organisation’s governance and organisation. The draft Planning and Development Bill 2022, when enacted, will bring greater clarity, consistency and certainty to how planning decisions are made.

Adequate account is taken of the needs of the future population of new and expanded communities, as well as the needs of existing communities.

The Draft Planning and Development Bill will be published in January and progress to pre-legislative scrutiny and enactment in early 2023.