In December 2018, I issued ’Urban Development and Building Height’ Guidelines for Planning Authorities and An Bord Pleanála, under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended). The Guidelines are available on my Department's website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/urban-development-and-building-height/urban-development-and-building-height-3.
Publication of the guidelines, which were widely called for in the planning and development sector, followed a period of public consultation and consideration of over 100 submissions and a thorough assessment by my Department, details of which are available on my Department's website at www.housing.gov.ie/node/8956/public-consultation-responses.
Under Section 30 of the 2000 Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned. Objections in relation to particular planning applications are a matter for the relevant local authority or An Bord Pleanala in the event of an appeal.
More generally, however, it is important to note that the guidelines specifically address their application in the context of areas covered by Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) Planning Schemes, in particular, through the insertion of Specific Planning Policy Requirement (SPPR) 3(B & C). This SPPR requires adopted SDZ planning schemes to be reviewed by their respective development agencies to ensure that Government policy on building heights is appropriately articulated within such planning schemes. Any alteration of approved planning schemes will require the undertaking of a review process that is provided for in law.
The intention of the above policy requirement is to ensure that, on the one hand, planning authorities give practical effect to Government policy on building height in planning scheme areas, while at the same time allowing for effective public engagement in any significant policy shift in relation to heights to comply with Government policy and in view of the absence of third party appeal rights in relation to planning applications in SDZs. For this reason, it is not the intention that SPPR 3 would allow an immediate ‘over-ride’ facility for the alteration of approved planning schemes without the undertaking of a review process that is provided for in law. Rather, the implementation of SPPR 3, and its components at A, B and C, as an integrated package, is focused on securing strategic planning outcomes, while at the same time providing for proper public consultation.
In determining planning policy and making planning decisions around appropriate building heights, the planning process has to strike a careful balance between enabling long-term and strategic development of relevant areas, while ensuring the highest standards of urban design, architectural quality and place-making outcomes.
I am satisfied that these guidelines are necessary and appropriate to give clear context and direction to the overall requirement to promote increased density and building height in appropriate locations within our urban centres.