Plan for new spatial strategy under way, says Minister

Strategy will be based on needs of communities and not developers, says O’Sullivan

 Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan: confirmed a new planning regulator would be provided for in an autumn Bill.  Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan: confirmed a new planning regulator would be provided for in an autumn Bill. Photograph: Eric Luke

 


The first steps towards a new regional development plan are under way, the Minister of State for Planning has said.

Jan O’Sullivan told The Irish Times she and Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan were in the process of appointing an initial core team of between three and five people to start “posing the right questions about what a new spatial strategy should be about”.

“We are doing the initial work [on a new strategy]. We are going to appoint a small number of people and scope out what needs to be done. They will initially do the scoping. I’m not saying they will draft the plan, but they will pose the questions.”

She also confirmed a new planning regulator would be provided for in an autumn Bill.

The 2002 National Spatial Strategy, which was to run until 2022, was scrapped this year by Mr Hogan, who said it had failed. That plan, unveiled by former minister for the environment Martin Cullen, had designated 18 “gateways” and “hubs” which were to become focal points for investment and development from which national development would flow.


Planning experience
Ms O’Sullivan told The Irish Times this week the “scoping [was] being done” on a new spatial strategy. “There will be someone with economic development experience and a person with professional and academic planning experience.”

It is understood a number of people have been appointed and others approached to be on the initial team.

Once their initial “scoping” is completed “there will be a considerable amount of consultation then with a wide range of interests – local authorities, chambers of commerce, residents’ groups, community organisations,” said Ms O’Sullivan. “It’s a very big undertaking so I want to draw in as much expertise on this as possible.”

She said bad planning and ill-thought out housing development were central to what went wrong with the Celtic tiger years. “The last spatial strategy was developed at a time when the boom was on the way up. We now need a strategy for a different Ireland, for maybe a better Ireland in a lot of ways.”

She said the appointment of a planning regulator, as recommended by the Mahon tribunal in its final report in March 2012, would be included in a Planning and Development Bill in the autumn. The new regulatory body would review and assess all forward planning by local authorities.