O’Sullivan Publishes Independent Report Of Planning Review

Jan O’Sullivan, TD, Minister for Housing and Planning, today published the independent report, conducted by Henk van der Kamp, into the Planning Review. Mr. van der Kamp’s task was to review the recommendations contained in the Planning Review and assess their appropriateness.  Mr. van der Kamp was also invited to propose additional actions which he believed were necessary in light of the contents of the Planning Review.

The Planning Review, published in June 2012, contained 12 recommendations relating to planning policy and practice which flowed from the analysis of how a range of cases were dealt with by a number of planning authorities.
Mr. van der Kamp’s report supports the appropriateness and effectiveness of nine of these 12 recommendations.

They are:
·        Consolidation of the Planning Acts and subsequent regulations
·        Clarify Section 247 of the Planning Act which is currently open to different interpretations
·        Comprehensive review of the Development Management Guidelines
·        Ensure timely, focused communication of planning policy
·        Dissemination of best practice examples to promote consistency in application of policy
·        Local Area Plan Guidelines should encourage effective widespread public consultation
·        Circular letter to issue to local authorities to stress the need to review planning decisions and policies particularly where such decisions are overturned by An Bord Pleanála
·        Strengthen formal arrangements for Ministerial engagement with the CCMA on planning matters
·        Greater communication of the planning system directly with the public
Mr. van der Kamp’s report doesn’t concur with three recommendations for the Planning Review.  These recommendations are:
·        That private landowners or developers be prevented from putting forward Local Area Plans.
·        That there should be a structured dialogue between planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála
·        That all proposed grants of planning permission that contravene a Development Plan are automatically referred to An Bord Pleanála for final determination.
Mr. van der Kamp’s independent review also proposed three additional actions that weren’t included in the original planning report.  These are:
Ø That a research project in relation to assess the quality of planning decisions is carried out.  This responds to the fact that the Planning Report dealt mainly with procedural rather than quality issues
Ø Enhanced use of graphical representation (visual data and models) to address the high degree of discretion in the written statement of the Development Plans.
Ø Code of conduct for reports by local authority planners  and inspectors in An Bord Pleanála
Commenting on the independent review Minister O’Sullivan thanked Mr. van der Kamp for his work on the issue and stated, “Mr. van der Kamp’s review is thorough and engaging and I will now reflect on the points he has made in conjunction with my Department”.
“I will examine his additional recommendations with a view to implementation.  In relation to the three recommendations he didn’t wholeheartedly support I will closely consider his arguments in this regard.”
“I am committed to building a transparent, democratic planning system fit for the 21st century.  That work involves learning from previous experience and implementing change.  The Planning Review and Mr. van der Kamp’s independent review have played an important role in that process.”