Strategic Development Zones, or 'SDZs', are designated due to their economic or social importance to the State. Each SDZ is governed by a Planning Scheme, that must prepared as part of a process that enables local residents and communities, as well as their local elected representatives at Council level, to input and shape how the SDZ is developed.
In this way, SDZs are designed to ensure both the delivery of specified development and infrastructure, and consistency and certainty in the future development of an area, for all stakeholders, whether developers or local residents.
The SDZ Planning Scheme adoption and amendment processes include a period of public consultation, before the local elected members of the relevant planning authority decide on the draft Scheme. The outcome of the draft Planning Scheme process may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, by any interested party who made a submission on the draft scheme.
If an appeal is lodged to An Bord Pleanála, the Board may decide to hold an oral hearing, at which local residents and community representatives, as well as local councillors, have an opportunity to contribute further to the process.
An adopted SDZ planning scheme provides certainty and consistency for all stakeholders, including residents and established communities, in relation to development within the designated area. This is because planning applications for development within an SDZ may be approved only on the basis of compliance with the approved Planning Scheme.
In recent years, since the introduction of the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) process for large scale residential development directly to An Bord Pleanála, there is the potential for some planning applications within an SDZ area to be made under the SHD process. This is a matter that is currently under review as part of an overall review of the SHD process in respect of which I will be reporting to the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.
In light of experience to date, I am satisfied that residents are given ample opportunity to express their views on proposed developments through the SDZ Planning Scheme process.