Sharing Experiences –
Planning Processes on the
Island of Ireland
The Border Regional Authority
Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel
Dundalk
Date: 30th September 2011
Current Planning Policy on
Island of Ireland
N.I. Planning
System
Regional
Development
Strategy
Planning Policy
Statements
Development
Plans
Supplementary
Planning
Guidance
Irish
Planning System
Planning Reform Northern
Ireland
Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011
Sets
the framework for the future of planning. It provides for the
transfer of the majority of planning functions from the DOENI to Local
Government (when) new governance arrangements for councils and a
new ethical standards regime for Councillors will be put in place and at
a time to be decided by the assembly;
Majority of Planning functions transfer to local government – District
Councils will be responsible for preparation of local development plans,
determining majority of applications and taking enforcement actions
Planning Act NI 2011- new
amendments
Local Development Plan
15 year Local Development Plan – will consist of two separate but
related documents (Plan Strategy and a Local Policies Plan);
New Development Plan timeframe – to be agreed between District
Council and DOENI (no time limit however!);
More effective participation from public and stakeholders earlier in plan
process;
Move away from objection based examination to ‘soundness’
approach. Planning inquiries will still be held but will be more thematic
based rather than submission based;
Greater potential for joint working between councils – providing joint
plans between councils (Section 18)
New
Planning Act NI 2011- new
amendments (cont.)
Development Management
1.Create
a positive development management culture;
2.3 Tiered Planning Application Structure – Regionally significant, Major and
Local (very similar to Scottish model);
3.District Councils will process some major and all local planning applications.
DOENI will process regionally significant applications through direct submission
or through call-in;
4.Early pre-application discussions will be mandatory, especially with respect to
larger planning applications;
5.Continuation of current streamlined planning applications process – faster
processing of smaller/more minor planning applications;
Planning Act NI 2011- new
amendments (cont.)
Enforcement
Period in which enforcement action can be taken changed to 5 years
(previously 4yrs for operational development and 10yrs for CoU);
Introduction of fixed penalty notices for failure to comply with
enforcement or breach of condition notices
Multiple fees for retrospective planning applications
Planning Appeals
Period within which appeals may be made have been reduced from 6
– 4 months – could be reduced further to 2 months later;
Appeals to be decided exclusively on material that was in front of the
authority when decision was made on planning application;
Irelands Planning &
Development (Amendment)
Act – 2010
Background & reasons for the 2010 Act
There are now around 440 Development plans and LAP’s
Co-ordination can be difficult with so many plans;
Implications of new EU Directives are significant for planning;
Lack of co-ordination between regional and local plans led to a series of
Ministerial Directions;
Previous RPG’s were vague with little impact on planning;
Experience of last 10 years pointed towards the need for reform in
relation to legal and technical requirements regarding integration and coordination of national, regional and local plans;
More evidenced based planning was therefore required;
Planning & Development
(Amendment) Act – 2010 cont.
Development Plan
•Enhanced role for Regional Authorities in Plan Process
•New provisions to better integrate SEA and AA processes into Development
Plan reviews
•Need for a Core Strategy as introduced by Section 7 of the 2010 Act
•Purpose: to demonstrate that the development plan and its objectives are consistent
with the National Spatial Strategy and Regional Planning Guidelines…
•Consistency: as regards (1) role and function of a Hierarchy of Gateways, Hub Towns,
county towns, other towns and villages and rural areas and (2) allocations of population
and land for housing to give effect to the hierarchy above…
•Timing: To be in place within 1 year of adoption of 2010 Regional Planning Guidelines,
by variation of Development Plans if necessary…
•Content:
• (1) Core Strategy section of Written Statement…
• (2) Core Strategy Table…
• (3) Core Strategy Map…
Planning & Development
(Amendment) Act – 2010 cont.
Development Management
1.EIA and retention of developments – ECJ Ruling C-215/06;
2.Quarries - new registration process. This part has recently been
enacted;
3.Material Contraventions under Section 36 of the Act now applied to
LAPs;
4.Extension of Time on Planning Permissions – However, there is strict
criteria laid out in the Act
Enforcement
1.Planning Authority may refuse planning permission based on
applicants track record;
2.Fines have been increased for various offences
Criticisms of our Planning
Systems
It creates delays,
uncertainties &
unnecessary costs
It does not provide
sufficient direction
to land use and
property
development
activities
It does not provide an
appropriate balance between
social, economic and
environmental factors
Planning simply
regulates development
and is not responsive to
change or facilitating new
development
It is too
cumbersome and
complicated
It creates
uncertainties and
inconsistencies for
all stakeholders
involved in the
process
It is not in the
public interest – it
favours vested
interests
It favours the rich
and elite in society
Similarities and Differences
between Planning Systems
on this Island
Similarities

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
Level of interest in planning
Challenges in planning
Increasing regulatory context
(EU Level- Directives)
Transboundary issues
Requirement for proof of
alignment between planning
documents
Structured Departmental
Guidance Documents (PPS in
NI & Section 28 Guidance in
ROI)
Differences
Reserved/Executive
Functions
Time limits – Development Plans
and Planning Applications;
Third party appeals;
Planning appeal periods;
Addressing Change!!
“An intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite
direction” ` Albert Einstein.
Evidence of Change
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Perception of planning is changing – there is a cultural change in the
mindset of people – was the Celtic tiger good for society?;
Forward Planning is increasingly evolving and providing greater strategic
direction at all levels of plans (Top/Down & Bottom/up)
More data and information is available to support plans (greater evidence
base) – GIS and technological improvements;
There is recognition of the need to link the provision of infrastructure and
land use planning – particularly at the strategic planning level;
Planning is now seen as central to pulling together all sectors of society to
provide services in an efficient and effective way i.e. health, education,
transport etc.;
There are stronger links between spatial plans, particularly in Ireland and
with the new amendments to the planning code introduced through the P &
D (Amendment) Act 2010
Evidenced Based Planning
Source: Strategic Investment Board, 2009
Co-operation –
How are we doing?
A lot done – more to do!
• Spatial Strategies on the Island of Ireland –
Development Framework for Collaborative Action;
• North West Gateway Strategy;
• Newry / Dundalk Twin City Strategy;
• Memorandum of Understanding between Newry
and Mourne DC and Louth County Council
• Independent Research such as ICLRDs Publication
on Fostering Mutual Benefits in Cross Border
Areas
The potential of the existing Interreg Projects in
the ICBAN Region (Spatial Planning Initiative)
and in the North West (SPACEial) are significant
and will contribute and shape future statutory
plans
Potential for Collaboration and
Co-operation – National level
Spatial Framework for
Collaboration (cont.)
Spatial Challenges
 Settlement patterns
& population growth
 Housing
 Economy
 Environment
 Climate Change
 Connectivity
 Electricity
Priority Areas
1. Equipping the Island
2. Competitive Places
3. Environmental Quality
4. Spatial Analysis
Areas for Co-operation at
Regional/Local Level
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
Planning – Need for improved consultation on Development Plan Reviews. New
protocol/procedures required for referrals on appropriate planning applications (inter-jurisdictional &
transboundary);
Joint Plans for Settlements/Areas - Amendments to both planning codes permit this (Clause
17/18 in NI 2011 Act) (Section 18 (2) P & D Act) – Cross Border??
Landscape – Classification and characterisation of landscape is significantly important to plan
making – it however needs to be carried out using the same methodology;
Retailing – Significant cross border issue and definition of catchment populations;
Housing - New Housing Market Assessment programme in Northern Ireland will be first to look at
housing market areas in a cross border context (current 3 year programme)
Water Services - Towns and villages designated for growth in Development Plans along the
border could be serviced by the other state!
Environment Services – Natural catchments & RBMPs Implementation is important. . Waste
Management is administered over different regions – currently a cross border issue
Pooling Specialist Resources - LAs and District Councils have less staff and greater demands
on resources. Specialised services and information could be shared in areas such as – flood risk
assessment, SEA& Habitats Assessment;
Potential for Co-operation
- Sectoral Opportunities








Renewable Energy & Environmental Products and
Services
Transport
Sustainable Tourism
Health
Education
Housing
Agri-food Sector
Waste Management
Conclusions

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We have two Planning Systems that are changing & evolving - need for
improved implementation & co-ordination at national level down to local
level;
In a tighter fiscal environment, there are cost efficiencies and potential for
more effective delivery of services in all sectors through improved
collaboration and cooperation – planning included!
There is a gradual change in cultural mind set towards planning which must
be harnessed;
Co-operation and collaboration adds value – why do we not do more of it?;
Co-operation requires leadership – from both officials and members;
The Collaborative Framework provides a key tool for both Governments,
Council Officials and Members to develop plans and strategies in identified
sectoral areas to enhance our quality of life on this island
Thank you for listening
Padraig Maguire
Regional Planner for
Border Regional Authority
www.border.ie
[email protected]
0494362600
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