Under Project Ireland 2040, including the National Planning Framework (NPF), the Government has identified the achievement of compact growth as a key mechanism to support the future sustainable development of our cities and towns, addressing issues such as regional development, urban sprawl, long-distance commuting, housing supply and climate action.
The compact growth objectives set out in the NPF and the emerging Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies are wholly in accordance with and underpinned by statutory planning guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas, published by my Department in 2009 under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).
The guidelines generally require net housing densities in the range of 35-50 dwellings per hectare (dph) in urban areas and over 50 dph in more central urban areas or on sites served by high frequency public transport. Many examples of the successful achievement of these density levels are set out in an accompanying Urban Design Manual.
In addition, it is important to note that the guidelines also provide scope for densities under 35 dph in smaller towns and villages, to assist in delivering sustainable urban housing alternatives to one-off rural houses. Both the guidelines and the manual are available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.housing.gov.ie/planning/guidelines/planning-guidance.
In relation to the preparation of their Local Area Plans (LAPs), planning authorities are required to have regard to these guidelines and broader Government policy. It is also necessary for the content of LAPs within the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) to be consistent with the transport strategy for the GDA.
In relation to the assessment of planning applications and/or appeals on planning decisions, local planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála must have regard to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the development plan, including any relevant local area plan, any submissions or observations received and relevant Ministerial guidelines or Government policies.
I am satisfied that the compact urban growth objectives of the National Planning Framework are consistent with and supported by the Guidelines for Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas and that these policy and guidance documents provide a robust framework for decision making on planning applications in a variety of different contexts.
My Department will continue to engage with planning authorities, the home-building industry and other sectoral interests to address any issues arising, particularly in the context of the review of development plans and related guidance, that will follow the making of the three Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies by the Regional Assemblies as part of the implementation of the National Planning Framework throughout the planning system.