Public consultation opens on Local Area Plans – Guidelines for Planning Authorities

After a 6 week consultation process ending on 27th July 2012, a final version of the Guidelines will be prepared for publication under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 later this year. “Communities are at the heart of our planning system, and should be integrally involved in planning for the sustainable future of their communities”, Minister Hogan said (Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government). “To that end, and to ensure that we practice what we preach, we are publishing this consultation draft of our statutory guidelines to allow stakeholders and the public to comment on the guidelines”.

The aim of the guidelines is to support planning authorities in preparing and implementing Local Area Plans that will provide for the sustainable development of communities having regard to realistic assessments of need for future development informed by wider county and city plans and regional planning guidelines. Minister O’Sullivan welcomed the provisions in the new guidelines which implement relevant recommendations of the recent Planning Review as well as correcting the errors of the past identified by the Mahon Tribunal, and in moving towards a stronger, more evidence-based planning system.

The new Guidelines provide, for the first time, statutory guidance to planning authorities on how to deliver on their mandatory obligations to prepare Local Area Plans for all towns with population of over 5,000, as well as the many forthcoming reviews of around 350 local area plans called for as a result of the planning reform process being driven by the Ministers under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010.

All local area plans must include clear maps for the intended zoning and development of the area with a statement of the physical, social and economic objectives for the area. The Guidelines particularly highlight the importance of building a strong consensus for the plans through local consultation, of the need to consider the financing and delivery mechanisms for the implementation of the plans, and of the requirements for environmental assessments to comply with relevant EU Directives. A best practice manual has also been developed to offer additional support to planning authorities in developing these plans.

The consultation draft of the guidelines are available here and comments should be returned to the Department by 27th July 2012.