Reimagining the Planning System: A New Planning Agenda

In January and February 2017 the Irish Planning Institute is hosting a series of five member only Policy Forums on “Reimagining the Planning System: A New Planning Agenda”.

Ongoing debates regarding the effectiveness of the planning system provides the Institute an opportunity to revisit the fundamental outcomes we consider most important for the Republic of Ireland's planning system and from there set out the structures required to deliver them.


In addition to ongoing legislative changes, additional reforms to the Republic's planning system have been proposed from a number of perspectives. The May 2016 Programme for a Partnership Government and Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Housing and Homelessness Action Plan both commit to a “root and branch” review of the planning system. The June 2016 Report of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness recommends “That consideration be given to suspending the hierarchy of development plans for a period of time to address the level of urgency presented by the current crisis and that a new model focused on the development of new towns with a wider availability of services is investigated.” The Independent Review of An Bord Pleanála published in March 2016 notes “An unnecessarily complex and fragmented planning code acts as a barrier to access and must be regarded as a considerable challenge not only for An Bord Pleanála. It is the view of this Review Group that the Government should give prompt consideration to establishing a review to address the complexity of planning law. Simplification of the legislative framework would also enable more efficient processes and practices among planning system participants, including An Bord Pleanála.” Also, the National Planning Framework will be a key document for the island of Ireland to 2040 but what is required to ensure the final Framework can be delivered?

Outcomes and Indicative Milestones

The forums intend to discuss the key outcomes for the planning system in the Republic of Ireland and explore the arrangements and resources required to deliver them. The forums are for IPI members only with invited experts. Chatham House rules apply but participants/attendees at each forum may be listed in subsequent documents/reports. Draft feedback reports will be circulated to attendees shortly after each forum for additional comments and these will also be circulated to the wider IPI membership inviting inputs. 

Discussions from the five fora, in addition to those from a workshop on Planning and Built Heritage held in November 2016, the IPI position papers published in April 2016 and other consultations, will form the basis of an IPI policy paper on “Reimagining the Planning System: A New Planning Agenda” which will be completed in April 2017. 

At the same time as the series the first public consultation on the National Planning Framework will be taking place. The series will inform IPI submissions to the NPF and participation on the NPF Advisory Group, where it is represented by Henk van der Kamp FIPI.

Contact for Further Information

Seán O'Leary, t: 01 878 8630 e:

Policy Forums 

18th January on “Legal and Constitutional Framework"

  • This event took place on 18th January.
  • Constitutional private property rights are regularly held up as hampering plan led development in Ireland. Alongside this, this forum will explore topics such as the role of the Courts and third parties, the Kenny Report, CPO, unauthorised development and the future of the Planning and Development Act as part of the legal, legislative and constitutional issues that shape planning in Ireland.
  • Speakers: Yvonne Scannell (TCD and Arthur Cox), Noel Dempsey (former Minister for the Environment), Tom Dunne (DIT).
  • Click here for the final feedback from the forum (log in required)

24th January on "the National Planning Framework"

  • The National Planning Framework will be a key document shaping Ireland to 2040 but what should it seek to achieve and what structures are required to ensure the final Framework can be delivered?
  • Speakers include: William Brady, Eoin Ó Broin, Mary Rose Burke, Declan Curran

1st February on “Lessons From Other Systems”

  • The Irish planning system put in place in 1963 closely resembled its UK counterpart and to this day it continues to be strongly influenced by trends across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. How effective has recent planning reform in these jurisdictions been however and should Ireland look further afield for examples of best practice? What aspects of the Irish system are exemplar? This forum will explore these issues.
  • Speakers include: Sabrina Dekker, Killian Harrington, Brian Keaney

14th February on “Local, Regional, National and International Structures”

  • This forum will explore issues such as: do we have too many planning authorities and development plans? What is the role of the elected member and should they have powers to decide planning applications? What is the role of the regional tier and what will be the impact of Brexit? Have recent reforms centralised Irish planning irrevocably?
  • Speakers include: Sean O'Riordain, Cllr Pádraig McEvoy, Clare McCoy

28th February on “Implementation and Delivery”

  • This forum will explore issues such as the role of the public sector and private sector in forward planning and development management, the goals of the planning system, what “proper planning and sustainable development” means in practice and are viability and sustainability mutually exclusive?
  • Speakers include: Ray Ryan, Damian Thomas, Charles Stanley-Smith, Sonja Reidy
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