I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 123 together.
On 7 December 2018, I issued 'Urban Development and Building Height’ Guidelines for Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála, pursuant to Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Publication of the guidelines, which were called for widely in the wider planning and development sector, followed a period of public consultation and consideration of over 100 submissions and a thorough assessment by my Department. A copy of the guidelines is available on my Department’s website at the following link.
Under Section 30 of the 2000 Act, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government is specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. Objections in relation to particular planning applications are a matter for the relevant local authority or An Bord Pleanala in the event of an appeal.
More generally, however, it is important to note that the guidelines specifically address their application in the context of areas covered by Strategic Development Zone Planning Schemes (SDZs), such as in the Dublin Docklands. SDZs may be reviewed at any stage by their respective development agencies to reflect changing implementation and policy circumstances and development agencies frequently employ these review mechanisms. Any alteration of approved planning schemes will require the undertaking of a review process that is provided for in statute.
In this regard, the guidelines seek to ensure that, on the one hand, planning authorities give practical effect to Government policy on building height in planning scheme areas, while at the same time allowing for effective public engagement in any significant policy shift in relation to heights to comply with Government policy and in view of the absence of third party appeal rights in relation to planning applications in SDZs.
Regarding their wider application, the guidelines set out a series of practical considerations, including in relation to daylight, that planning authorities must take into account in assessing relevant development proposals.
In determining planning policy and making planning decisions around appropriate building heights, the planning process has to strike a careful balance between enabling strategic long-term sustainable development, while ensuring the highest standards of urban design, architectural quality and place-making outcomes. I am satisfied that the guidelines concerned are necessary and appropriate to give clear context and direction to the overall requirement to promote increased density and building height in appropriate locations within our urban centres.