I propose to take Questions Nos. 439 and 463 together.
Sections 18, 19 and 20 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, together with the planning guidelines on local area plans issued by my Department under Section 28 of the Act, set out the statutory process to be followed in the preparation of statutory Local Area Plans and public consultation processes to be followed.
Within this statutory process there is no provision for elected members to change statutory preparation timeframes and-or add an additional public consultation period.
It is ultimately a matter for a planning authority to progress a local area plan process, once commenced, within the statutorily defined timeframes. My Department is aware that in isolated situations some local area plan review processes may not be completed and would instead be restarted due to inadvertent procedural issues or omissions.
The legislation provides for extensive consultation in relation to the making, amendment or revoking of a local area plan, both with the general public and with certain prescribed bodies including my Department, who are offered the opportunity to make submissions or observations which must be considered by the planning authority.
Where local authorities fail to adopt policies that reflect the overall national policy position or breach statutory requirements, the Oireachtas has provided the Minister with powers to direct a planning authority to amend a statutory local area plan under procedures set out in Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). Section 31 is essentially a safeguarding mechanism that follows on from statutory consultation by planning authorities with the Minister in drawing up or amending their statutory development plans or local area plans.