The Government has taken an extensive range of measures to ensure the more sustainable treatment of land and property in Ireland across both the housing and planning areas. The Government's housing policy statement published in June 2011 marked a radical departure for housing in Ireland. The statement clearly recognises the economic consequences of an over reliance on the property sector. It signalled a shift to a tenure neutral high level objective, and a clear commitment to restoring balance to the housing sector generally through a lesser reliance on home ownership. The statement also announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes on the basis that these had been symptoms of, rather than solutions to, an overheated property market. A consultancy study for purposes of a review of Part V of the Planning and Development Acts has been carried out and I will publish the strategy in the near future.
In terms of planning, I recently issued guidance to planning authorities to update the way in which development contributions schemes are used to capture planning gain. The Government is also keenly aware of the strong synergy between a balanced, evidence based approach to forward planning and overcoming our economic challenges to prepare for recovery. In this regard, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act, 2010 has strengthened regional co-ordination and the alignment of planning policies from national to local level, with the integration of core strategies; local authorities are engaging with the legislation and recognise the need for a plan-led approach for all proposed development. The requirement to include evidence-based core strategies in development plans is essential in rationalising the excessive zoning in some parts of the country, and moving to a position where all zoning is based on a quantifiable need that is community based rather than developer-led.
I am committed to a physical planning system that is better supported by: evidence-based requirements linked to key Government strategic policies e.g. through the National Spatial Strategy and capital allocations; a coherent basis to ensure planning and investment in infrastructure and services are focused on the most suitable locations; tackling the legacy of over-zoning and moving towards a more joined up approach to the delivery of critical services such as schools, public transport, water services and social housing; refocusing on revitalising city and town centres, and discouraging urban sprawl; engaging more directly with elected members at a strategic level by requiring them to bring together, in a concise manner, the key priorities of their development plan; and providing the necessary certainty about where development will take place.