OPR Report 2020

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR), the States independent oversight body for planning, published its annual report for the year 2020 on October 4th, 2021. This report represents the OPR’s first full year of existence since its establishment in April 2019. The report shows that there was a significant increase in the number of local authority development plans evaluated by the OPR in 2020. This led to a rise in the number of recommendations and observations issued to local authorities regarding the adherence of their plans to national and regional planning policy. In addition, there was a large increase in complaints made to the OPR regarding how local authorities operate their planning function, with a number of these complaints upheld.

Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:

  • In 2020, 18 plans were adopted by local authorities which had been evaluated by the OPR. Of the24 recommendationsissued in respect of these plans, all but one had been substantially addressed by the final stage of the planning process,
  • Inconsistency with the National Planning Framework(30%)and inconsistency with guidelines on topics such as flood risk management, local area plans and spatial planning (29%) were the most frequently occurring categories for recommendations
  • The OPR evaluated45local authority plans in 2020 compared to 25 in 2019. Overall, a total of 203 recommendations and observations (93 recommendations, 110 observations) were made to local authorities, up from 47 in 2019
  • A total of119 complaintswere received in 2020 compared to 54 in 2019. One hundred of these were on matters not relevant to the OPR. Nineteen complaints were valid as they related to matters the OPR could examine, which compares to eight in 2019. So far, three of these 19 valid complaints (16%) have been upheld
  • Over 600 local councillors attended planning-related training which took place in conjunction with the Association of Irish Local Government.

The OPR have provided a Storymap of the report, which can be found at the following link: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/7e9a2e4d16ce4080b81ca5d189a3d2a3

National Development Plan 2021-2032

The National Development Plan 2021-2030 was published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on October 4th, 2021. As part of Project Ireland 2040 the National Development Plan sets out the Government’s over-arching investment strategy and budget for the period 2021-2030. It is “an ambitious plan that balances the significant demand for public investment across all sectors and regions of Ireland with a major focus on improving the delivery of infrastructure projects to ensure speed of delivery and value for money”. The Plan is the largest National Development Plan ever delivered in the history of the state. The Plan sets a total budget of €165 billion – with a particular focus on priority solutions to strengthen housing, climate ambitions, transport, healthcare, jobs growth in every region and economic renewal for the decade ahead.

Amendments to Section 42 of the Planning and Development Act

Five amendments to Section 42 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) were signed by Mr Darragh O’Brien, T.D., Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and came into effect on the 9th of September 2021. These amendments can be summarised as follows:

  1. Section 7 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2021 inserts a new section 42B into the Planning and Development Act 2000, which provides for the further extension of the appropriate period of a planning permission by an additional period of up to 2 years or until 31 December 2023 whichever first occurs, subject to the planning authority being satisfied of a number of matters set out in section 42(1B). These matters include that the relevant planning authority shall be satisfied that:
  • The development has commenced;
  • Substantial works have been carried out; and
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and appropriate assessment (AA) are not required for the proposed extension.

The provision applies to extant permissions due to expire as well as to permissions which expired between 8 January 2021 and 8 September 2021.

  1. The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (Section 28(1)) (Commencement) Order 2021, commences section 28(1) of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016, as amended. Section 28(1), as amended, deletes section 42(1)(a)(ii) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 thereby removing the possibility of an extension of duration for un-commenced development or development where substantial works have not been carried out. Section 28(1) also introduces a requirement at section 42(1)(a)(i)(II) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 that a planning authority must be satisfied that an EIA or AA was or were not required before the original planning permission was granted, prior to extending an appropriate period of a permission.
  1. Section 28(1) amends section 42(4) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide that up to two extensions of the appropriate period of a planning permission can be made, provided the combined duration of both extensions does not exceed 5 years.

Amendments to Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended)

Section 96 of the of the Planning and Development Act has been amended by the Affordable Housing Act 2021. The main changes can be summarised as follows:

  • Any new planning permissions for housing development on land purchased on or after 1st August 2021 will have a 20% Part V requirement.
  • A 10% Part V requirement will apply where land already has planning permission or was purchased between 1 September 2015 and 31 July 2021 and planning permission is granted before 31 July 2026.
  • There will be a Part V requirement on any land granted planning permission for the development of housing, irrespective of zoning.

Budget 2022: Zoned Land Tax

Budget 2022 was announced on Tuesday, 12th October 2021. As part of this budget, a new Zoned Land Tax of 3% tax is being introduced to encourage the use of land that is zoned residential and mixed-use to build homes. The tax will apply to land which is zoned suitable for residential development and is serviced, but has not been developed for housing.  A lead-in time for the general application of the Zoned Land Tax of 2 years is proposed for land zoned before January 2022, and a 3 year lead-in time for land zoned after January 2022. The Zoned Land Tax will replace the Vacant Sites Levy when it comes into operation.

Update on Legislation to Replace the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) Planning Arrangements

The existing planning provisions in relation to SHDs as provided for in the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 and supplementary 2017 regulations – requiring the submission of SHD planning applications directly to An Bord Pleanála for determination are due to expire on 25 February 2022. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has been working on formulating new legislation providing for the replacement of the SHD arrangements and restoring decision making in respect of such largescale housing developments to local planning authorities with the possibility of subsequent appeal to An Bord Pleanála. The Department is currently in the process of finalising the drafting of a Bill to be titled the Planning and Development (Large-Scale Residential Bill – LRD) Bill 2021, in consultation with the office of the Attorney General.

It is intended that the legislative process will be concluded as quickly as possible during the current Oireachtas session. Pending the enactment of the Bill and the making of supplementary LRD Regulations, the existing SHD arrangements remain in force. Therefore, SHD pre-application consultation requests and SHD planning applications may continue to be made to An Bord Pleanála. It is anticipated that, subject to Oireachtas approval and signature of the Bill, the SHD system will transition from December 17th, 2021, and will be replaced by the new LRD system.


Open Consultations on Statutory Plans

Draft Ballinasloe Local Area Plan 2022-2028

Pursuant to Section 20 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), Galway County Council have prepared a Draft Ballinasloe Local Area Plan for the period 2022-2028. The Draft LAP and associated reports will be available for inspection at the following locations:

  • https://consult.galway.ie/
  • Planning Office, Áras an Chontae, Prospect Hill, Galway H91 H6KX (Monday -Friday 9am-4pm)
  • Ballinasloe Library, Society Street, Ballinasloe (Tuesday 11.00am – 1.00pm & 2.00pm – 8.00 pm Wednesday-Saturday 11.00am -1.00pm & 2.00pm – 5.00pm)
  • Ballinasloe Area Office, Civic Offices, Ballinasloe H53 A7K7 (Monday-Friday 9.10am-5.00pm)

Submissions and observations are welcome from the public and also from children, or groups or associations representing the interests of children. Submissions can be made online by visiting  https://consult.galway.ie/ and clicking ‘Make a Submission‘ button on the top right of the page, by email to forwardplanning@galwaycoco.ie, or in writing and addressed to:
Ballinasloe Local Area Plan’, Forward Planning Section, Galway County Council, Prospect Hill,  Galway.