The issue of planning reform has been gathering momentum over the last year or two. It was explicitly mentioned in a number of Government reports with both the May 2016 ‘Programme for a Partnership Government’ and ‘Rebuilding Ireland’, the Government’s Housing and Homelessness Action Plan committing to a “root and branch” review of the planning system. The June 2016 Report of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness recommended “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 also stated that the Government should give prompt consideration to establishing a review to address the complexity of planning law. We have seen some substantial changes to planning legislation recently in terms of the implementation of national planning policy and development management. At the same time as planning reform is being discussed, work is underway on the forthcoming National Planning Framework. This will be a critical document shaping Ireland to 2040. What structures are needed to ensure the Framework can be delivered?
In light of all this, it’s timely for us to consider whether the planning system is working effectively, what we want to see it achieve and if it is structured in such a way that will foster good planning. In order to do this, the IPI is holding a series of policy fora this January and February on the topic of planning reform. These are focused on high level, strategic issues influencing the organisation and delivery of planning in Ireland including legal and constitutional matters, planning structures at local, regional and national level, delivery and implementation and lessons from international planning. A separate forum will be held on the NPF; what should it seek to achieve and what is required for successful implementation. Chatham House rules apply to the fora. The discussions from the fora, in addition to those from a workshop on Planning and Built Heritage held in November 2016 and the IPI position papers published in April 2016, 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. The first two fora are now booked out. Details of the programme and bookings for the remaining fora can be made online here.