Local authorities already have comprehensive powers to manage and dispose of their land holdings.
Where a local authority has acquired land which is designated as open space, whether as a condition of planning permission or otherwise, the local authority is empowered under section 211 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, to dispose of that land where it no longer requires the land for its own functions, or if the disposal would secure the best use of the land or the carrying out of works necessary for the proper planning or sustainable development of the area. If the price, rent or other consideration received in exchange is not the best reasonably obtainable, the consent of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government is normally required for the disposal to proceed.
However, Article 206 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 provides that the consent of the Minister need not be obtained where, for social or economic reasons, the members of the local authority decide that it is reasonable to dispose of the land other than for the best reasonably obtainable consideration. The manager must prepare a report setting out the economic or social reasons which apply in relation to the disposal of land.
Where it is proposed to use land designated as open space for another purpose, the change of use would of course be subject to the planning code. Consideration would have to be given as to whether the new use was in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and the provisions of the development plan.
As the existing powers of local authorities to dispose of land are comprehensive, I have no proposals to amend the legislation.