IPI respond to publication of the BUILD report produced by the Construction Sector Group (CSG)

“Strong year on year growth in planning approvals an encouraging sign”

“Commitment to co-ordinated, evidence-based investment very welcome”

-         The establishment of dedicated reporting and delivery structures gives real substance to Project Ireland 2040

The establishment of dedicated, transparent mechanisms to report progress on the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 is a welcome indicator that the public will be able to hold the State to its commitments made last year on the twenty year plus national investment plan”

Mr. Joe Corr, President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), the professional body representing planners in Ireland, was speaking as the IPI responded to publication today (Thursday, 28 February, 2018) of the BUILD report produced by the Construction Sector Group (CSG) established for the purpose by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER)

Acknowledging the immediate need of society for increased housing, Mr Corr noted that BUILD reported a marked increase in planning permissions granted in each of the past two years.

“In 2017 we saw 20,766 approvals – up 27% on 2016 and the highest level of permissions granted per annum in over a decade. This trend continues upwards with the level of permissions granted for the first three quarters of 2018 already in excess of the figure for all of 2017 suggesting a strong year on year growth that will notably boost housing stocks this year and next”.

This does highlight he added the need to ensure that attention is given to resourcing those charged with both the making of plans and the management of development against those plans. Mr. Corr welcomed the recommendation of the CSG that the Expert Group on Future Skills will this year be asked to focus on assessing and securing the skills required to sustain the construction  and development effort.

Mr Corr continued “The existence of well-considered, evidence-based development plans that address the common good and cater for a balance in development between residential, commercial and public use are critical to the success of Project Ireland 2040.

Ensuring that the skills required are in place to do so is a challenge. In planning alone, a survey of senior planners in 27 local and regional country authorities countrywide in mid-summer 2018 revealed that those authorities collectively will need about 70 extra planners – a 20% increase on the current capacity – to  address the expanded demand created in response to the needs of the NPF. It is a positive that these type of resource challenges are being considered in co-ordinated way and can we hope be addressed as part of a system wide response that aligns resources and builds capacity in an evidence based manner”.

One of our primary concerns when the plan was announced was that there would be a ‘rush to the gate’ on easy to deliver projects before the necessary investment was made in the structures and competencies necessary to establish a solid base of evidence to deliver on the promise of the National Planning Framework (NPF) which was announced alongside the investment programme.

“It is this pleasing to see the BUILD report note the successful establishment of a Project Ireland 2040 Delivery board, The Investment Projects and Programme Office, The Land Development Agency and the Project Ireland 2040 Investment Tracker. We have also seen the establishment of an independent Office of Planning Regulation and the Constructions Sector Group which facilitates engagement with and co-ordination by industry with the structures of State. All of these are important parts of a robust and responsive system that we believe and expect  will improve and streamline the delivery of the key projects set out in Project Ireland 2040”