In order to properly plan for future population and housing growth on a regional and county basis, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 provides for the co-ordinated and timely incorporation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the Regional Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES) for each of the three regional assembly areas, into the relevant City or County Development Plan.
Under the Act, each local authority is required to review or vary its county development plan, within six months of the making of the relevant regional strategy. The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the North-Western Regional Assembly area, which includes Donegal, is currently at amended draft stage. It is envisaged that the Regional Strategy, after a final round of public consultation, will be approved during Autumn 2019. Further to this, Donegal County Council will be required to either commence or vary their Development Plan, including their Housing Strategy for the County, with the process being completed by 2020/21, to cover the period to 2026/27.
In this regard National Policy Objective (NPO) 37 of the National Planning Framework requires each local authority to carry out a Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) in order to correlate and accurately align overall future housing requirements, as an evolution of their existing Housing Strategy requirements under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).
This process will assist local authorities in ensuring that long-term strategic housing needs are met across all types and tenures within their functional area, in both urban and rural locations. My Department intends to provide further guidance to local authorities later this year, to support their HNDA work as part of the review of their Development Plans. In tandem with the preparation of the HNDA methodology and guidance, my Department is also currently revising and updating Guidelines for Development Plan preparation, which will also be finalised by the end of the year.
In this context, it will be a matter for Donegal County Council, having regard to the outcome of the processes outlined, and supported by updated guidance from my Department, to identify and ensure that their strategic housing needs are met in the years ahead.