The completion timeframe for the review of the Meath County Development Plan is a matter for Meath County Council. My Department is aware that the local authority has paused its review of the development plan, pending the completion of a Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) over the remainder of this year, which will act as a key co-ordinating strategy for the various local authority development plans in the Eastern and Midlands Regional Assembly area.
If the Meath County Development Plan review was to proceed at the current time, it would be developed and consulted upon before the availability of up-to-date detailed demographic and other data which will emanate from the RSES process.
It should also be noted that the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016, which has recently completed Committee Stage in the Seanad, contains a proposed amendment that would in effect allow for the pausing of development plan reviews in certain circumstances, such as have arisen in Meath County Council's case, and require the initiation of reviews of recently adopted development plans to ensure effective alignment of statutory plans at national, regional and local levels.
In the circumstances, Meath County Council was confronted with the choice between proceeding with a review of a development plan without the necessary supporting data and having to review the plan if the proposed amendments in the Planning Bill as outlined above were adopted and ultimately enacted, and putting in place a brief pause while that information is developed and made available.
My Department has been in written communication with Meath County Council on foot of its decision and has acknowledged the practical and strategic policy factors that it has taken into account in coming to its decision.
My Department is also continuing to engage with the three Regional Assemblies on an ongoing basis throughout the formulation and publication of the NPF and preparations of the corresponding RSES. A draft RSES for each of the Regional Assembly Areas is expected to be approved by each Assembly for the purpose of public consultation by June/July 2018, with expected adoption dates of the final RSESs at the start of 2019.