The Minister for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has informed local authorities that she will invoke her legal powers to clamp down on poor planning decisions at local level.

The Minister has informed local authorities of her intention to invoke her Section 31 powers in all cases where initial Departmental opinions on proposed development plans and local area plans are ignored or not given serious consideration. 

The Minister has already used her powers under Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act on three occasions in the past nine months to overturn decisions contrary to good planning. The first was in relation to Clare County Council where there was a potential threat to wildlife habitat; the second involved Laois County Council where the development proposed was on lands that were physically isolated from the town and at risk of flooding; the third case which involved Midleton Town Council was also overturned due to the risk of flooding.

Minister O’Sullivan stated, “My Department provides statutory observations on all development plans and local area plans.  This process ensures that these plans reflect national and regional planning policy… this week I reminded local authorities that I will act decisively when I have good reason to believe that poor planning decisions are being made.”

Other planning-related initiatives aimed at streamlining and improving the planning process are also being pursued, these include:  

·       Draft legislation to establish an independent planning regulator, as recommended by the Mahon Tribunal;

·       New guidelines for development contributions and retail planning that give a positive bias to development of town and  city centres, as opposed to ‘out-of-town’ development; and

·       Consolidation of all primary and secondary planning legislation to allow the public and professionals to access all planning legislation in one place.