Effective delivery of Project Ireland 2040 needs clear focus on implementation resources

“2018 was a year of exceptional change in the Irish planning system which now needs to be followed by a concerted focus across the system to ensure effective implementation of the initiatives and plans announced last year” according to Mr. Joe Corr, President of the Irish Planning Institute. (IPI).

Mr Corr was previewing the 2019 Annual Planning Conference which takes place on Thursday and Friday of this week in Carrick on Shannon.

The conference will focus on the principle areas identified in Project Ireland 2040 where planners have a central role in implementation and where public investment has been targeted. This will include a review of three specific investment case studies being funded under dedicated  funding streams for urban and rural regeneration.

The conference will also look at progress in the implementation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) which is now focussed on the creation by the three Regional Assemblies of Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs) to articulate the NPF in more specific terms on a region by region basis.

Mr. Corr noted that “this is a very positive environment for planners given the attention now being given by Government to longer term investment. Our role is to ensure that there is an evidence based approach that helps focus investment in the direction of the greater good and over the longer term while responding effectively to immediate needs”                    

The conference will also be looking at the role of planning in addressing key infrastructure needs over the next two decades. Water is a particular focus with Mr. Corr noting the need for close engagement between the planning community and Irish Water. This will enable the utility to deliver on its substantial capital delivery programme to safeguard drinking water supplies and improve wastewater infrastructure. “Irish Water is supporting social and economic development in Ireland with a €6.1bn capital spend between now and 2024. To deliver this, Irish Water submits an average of 50 planning applications and 20 CPOs a year. A considerable number of these applications are for projects in smaller towns or villages where Irish Water work with other government agencies to enable growth and improve compliance with drinking water and wastewater regulations.This will be best achieved through including provision in spatial planning generally for the supply of water and waste water disposal networks and we look forward to advancing that conversation at this week’s event.”

Mr Corr confirmed that planners expect to hear more from Minister Eoghan Murphy TD on of his plans for the Office of Planning Regulation when he visits the conference on Friday. “We regard the Regulator as an important and positive development for the profession. It will enable better plan-making, improved oversight and valuable research.  It will also drive a stronger culture of transparency in decision making for the planning system which will support sustainable development throughout the country”.

Mr. Corr concluded “2019 a good time to be a planner. There is a strong need for planning expertise in both the public and the private sectors and a greater awareness of the need to maintain a focus on the use of an evidence based approach to protect the greater good in development activity. We look forward to a vigorous discussion over the coming days and to putting up our hand as a professional community ready to play a key role in the next stage of Ireland’s development.”