I understand that the question is in reference to a Study visit to London organised by the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), that took place from 16 to 18 October 2019.
I should clarify that events such as this, organised by professional bodies such as the IPI, form part of a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for those working in the planning or other technical-professional arenas, in both private and public sectors, and are open to all those who are members of the Institute and other relevant stakeholders. Therefore, the IPI Study visit was not exclusive to An Bord Pleanála and included officials from a number of different planning authorities and my Department.
The purpose of events such as these are to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experience and best practice. This provides a useful context for key officials, from both a development management and policy formulation perspective. While I am not in a position to provide an overall assessment of this event from the perspective of the IPI, my officials found it useful to see practical examples of varied forms of different urban regeneration and densification.
The topic of urban densification, was also the theme of a conference London Irish Town Planners Network, at which I spoke. The Irish delegates on the IPI study trip were also invited to attend this event, which provided a useful forum for discussion and information exchange and will assist in contributing to future policy development.
At the event, I outlined the principal policies of the Government in relation to the best use of land for the building of houses, including the importance of compact growth for regional, urban and rural development, are set out in the National Planning Framework and in the three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs). The RSESs, are likely to be finalised by the end of this year, after which, a review of County and City development plans will complete the local policy context.