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.

Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029

Publication of the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 sets out the policies and objectives for the development of the City over the plan period. The plan has been prepared in accordance with the steps set out in the Planning and Development Acts. The Elected Members of Galway City Council adopted the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 at the Full Council Meeting held on Thursday, 24th November 2022, and it came into effect from Wednesday, 4th January 2023. This is a six-year development plan for the City, and it is expected to remain in force (subject to any interim variations that the Council may make) until 2029.

The Development Plan is a Local Authority’s main policy document in relation to planning. The Development Plan consists of a written statement which sets out the policies for the city, and maps which show land use zonings for different types of development, such as residential, commercial, and industrial. The plan sets out the overall core strategy and specific objectives for the proper planning and sustainable development of Galway City.

The Draft Direction by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to Galway City Council as regards the making of the Galway City Development Plan 2023-2029 was released on the 20th of January 2023 and is open for submission until 4 pm on the Friday, 3rd February 2023. Written submissions or observations regarding the Draft Direction may be made to the Planning Authority during the consultation period. The Office of the Planning Regulator shall consider these before it makes a recommendation to the Minister on the matter.

The Draft Direction issued by the Minister is available to view online here 

It is also available for inspection at the Planning Department, Galway City Council, City Hall, College Road, Galway, H91 X4K8, during opening hours: 9 am-4 pm, Monday to Friday.