Section 9 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 (the 2016 Act), requires An Bord Pleanála (the Board), when making a decision on a planning application for a Strategic Housing Development (SHD), to have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area in which it is proposed to situate the proposed development, the development plan for the area and any relevant local area plan, any submissions or observations received, the potential effects on the environment or on a European site - as the case may be - of the proposed development, as well as any relevant Ministerial or Government policies, including any guidelines issued by my Department.
When making its determination, the Board is further required under section 9 of the 2016 Act to consider the report of the relevant planning authority on the proposed development. The report includes the authority’s opinion on the proposed development, a recommendation on whether to grant or refuse permission and the views of the elected members on the proposed development as expressed at a meeting of the Area Committee or Municipal District, where such a meeting has taken place.
Planning authorities play a central role in the determination of SHD applications. The pre-application stage relating to a proposed SHD project requires the prospective applicant, in the first instance, to consult with the relevant planning authority prior to engaging in formal pre-application consultations with the Board. In addition, the planning authority is required to submit to the Board its written opinion on the proposed development with regard to the provisions of the relevant development plan or local area plan in advance of the formal pre-application consultation meeting with the prospective applicant. Planning authority officials with sufficient knowledge and expertise in the matter concerned are required to attend any such formal pre-application consultation meetings between the Board and the prospective applicant.
Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000, as amended, I am 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.