Organisational review of Bord Pleanála announced

Review to examine whether planning body is positioned to meet future challenges

A review of An Bord Pleanála will decide if its remit should be expanded to deal with the challenges of the recovering economy, according to Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.

The Minister said the review was taking place to ensure that the Board is appropriately positioned to meet future challenges.

“The board is a vital part of the planning architecture in Ireland and in the context of the recovering national economy, the further potential expansion of the Board’s remit and the increasingly challenging national and EU legislative and regulatory context in which it operates, I consider that now is an opportune time to undertake an organisational review to ensure that it is appropriately positioned for the future”, said Mr Kelly.

An Bord Pleanála is an independent body, established initially under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act 1976, which is responsible for the determination of planning appeals and certain other matters under planning legislation.


Since its establishment, it has become an integral part of the Irish planning system, providing an independent, impartial and objective appeals process, while more recently also becoming responsible for the assessment and determination of applications for strategic infrastructure development such as major roads and railways.

The board is also responsible for dealing with proposals for the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities under various enactments.

The timeframe for the review will be approximately six months, with a view to a report and recommendations being submitted to the Minister by the end of this year.

The terms of reference say the review should recommend measures to ensure that planning applications and appeals are discharged in an efficient and timely manner as the economy recovers.

They also refer to the increasingly complex and changing national and EU legislative and policy context within which the board operates as well as the need for more effective co-ordination of the planning permission process with other development consent and licencing systems.

The review will also look at the increase in litigation in the area of the board’s work and measures required to address this as well as the appropriateness of the current legislation governing the functions of the board, its corporate governance structures and the appointment process.

It will also look at the increase in functions being assigned to the board, including foreshore licensing, and its decision making processes in determining planning appeals and determinations.

A variety of other issues including the organisational structure of the board, its technology requirements as well as financial resources will also be examined.

The implications of proposed changes to the planning system, both legislative and structural, including the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator with also form part of the review’s remit.

The review group will be chaired by British barrister Gregory Jones QC who specialises in town and country planning, environmental, European and compulsory purchase law. The other members of the review group are Dr Áine Ryall, The School of Law, University College Cork (vice-chair), Michael Malone, former County Manager, Kildare County Council and Mary Hughes, current President of the Irish Planning Institute.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times