Cabinet approves Bill to overhaul planning system

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed the planning Bill (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed the planning Bill (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Cabinet has approved a Bill which would see a restructuring of An Bord Pleanala as part of a major overhaul of Ireland’s planning system.

The Planning and Development Bill 2023, if approved, would also introduce reform of planning judicial review, a timeframe increase in local authority development plans from six to 10 years, mandatory timelines for decisions within the new planning body An Coimisiun Pleanala, and new provisions for urban development zones.

The Government said the Bill, which is the third largest in the history of the State, comes after a 15-month review of the planning system.

It is aimed at making the planning system more coherent and user-friendly for the public and planning practitioners.

The Bill introduces mandatory statutory timelines across all consenting processes.

The revised corporate structure of An Coimisiun Pleanala will mean a separation of corporate decision making and governance functions.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the largest shake-up of Ireland’s planning system in more than two decades “will bring more certainty and consistency” to the process.

He added: “It’s currently taking far too long for applications to get through the system and it’s in all our interests to make sure the planning system is resourced properly.

“We have much to do – from housing, to renewable energy, to regional development – and this legislation will be a real step change.”

Tanaiste Micheal Martin said the Bill will bring about fundamental planning improvements for the delivery of Housing For All and major infrastructure projects.

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said the Bill’s environmental considerations mean it can be a “cornerstone to our sustainable and balanced development as a country”.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said the legislation would facilitate increased housing supply.