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  • Planning Regulator

    The Government have published (15.12.15) a Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2015 which will provide for the establishment of an independent “Office of the Planning Regulator” to maintain a constant watch over the general systems and procedures employed by planning authorities, including An Bord Pleanála and to examine and report on the content of development plans, including zoning practices of local authorities.

    The primary purpose of the Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the establishment and operation of the independent Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) which was the main recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal of Inquiry into certain planning matters and payments. Under the provisions of the Bill, the OPR will be:

    • fully independent of the Department in its day to day operations;
    • responsible for the independent assessment of all local authority and regional assembly forward planning, including the zoning decisions of local authority members in local area and development plans, to ensure compliance with relevant national and/or regional policy;
    • empowered to review the organisations, systems and procedures used by any planning authority or An Bord Pleanala in the performance of any of their planning functions under the Planning Act, including potential systemic risks of corruption and on foot of individual complaints from members of the public; and
    • enabled to drive a national research, education and public information programme on proper planning and sustainable development, and to highlight the role and benefit of planning.
    Among the other revisions to the Planning and Development Act incorporated in the Bill are provisions for:
    • a legislatively defined approach to the development of a successor strategy to the National Spatial Strategy (Mahon recommendation Number 1),
    • enhanced transparency in the planning process with submissions and observations received in respect of development plans and local area plans having to be published on planning authorities’ websites (Mahon recommendation Number 5),
    • the Chief Executive’s report on such submissions also to be published on the website of the relevant planning authority (Mahon recommendation Number 5),
    • the forwarding of any proposed grants of planning permission in material contravention of a local area plan or development plan to the relevant regional assembly for observations (Mahon recommendation Number 6),
    • the amendment of section 255 of the Planning Act to provide that the Minister will have regard to recommendations of the OPR in relation to the appointment of a Commissioner to assume the functions of a planning authority in specific circumstances,

    Also, the making of regulations by the Minister to:
    • facilitate the introduction of e-planning (online submission of planning applications and appeals) and setting out the requirements in that regard, including the electronic payment of associated fees,
    • require planning authorities to provide data and/ or information for databases or national planning systems as may be specified by the Minister (i.e. which is the Department public information website on development plans and local area plans etc.), and
    • provide for elected members paying a reduced fee or no fee for making a submission on a planning application (Mahon recommendation Number 8).

    Published on December 21, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as:
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