My Department is currently drafting a new National Policy on Architecture which will support long–term planning strategies and will assist in addressing key issues including societal well-being, climate change and urban regeneration. The adaptation of existing as well as the design of new buildings will, of course, be critical to meet the targets set by the Climate Action Plan 2019.
My Department, supported by a steering committee including officials from the Office of Public Works, the Department of Education and Skills, the Health Service Executive, the City and County Architects Association, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, the schools of architecture and the Irish Architecture Foundation, recently undertook a public consultation process allowing the opportunity for all communities, stakeholders and citizens to have their say on the proposed new Policy.
The consultation phase considered the main ways in which architecture and our built environment affect society, our health and well-being and our ability to prosper. These include climate adaptation and mitigation and sustainable development, the benefits for everyone of obtaining high quality in the built environment, the protection and reuse of our built heritage, ways we can demonstrate built environment leadership and the need to foster education about our built environment. We invited online and written submissions, and social media engagement, alongside a series of workshops and meetings, including virtual workshops in line with public health restrictions, to allow wide-ranging involvement in the drafting of the new policy, as well as consideration of the effect of Covid-19 on our built environment.
It is my intention that a new National Policy on Architecture will play an integral part in implementing our vision for the future, providing policy actions that will encourage best quality in researching, understanding, managing, enhancing and reusing our existing built environment assets as well as delivering sustainable new places and spaces.
The Policy will be informed by the feedback from the consultation phase, with over 150 submissions received, as well as by a review of the previous policy by the Office of Public Works and our involvement in a European Commission working group on high quality architecture and built environment. The analysis of the consultation phase is currently underway with a report due in the next month or so which will help shape a draft policy.
I will, of course, be happy to consult with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage at the earliest opportunity in relation to the Policy.