Draft Planning and Development Bill 2022

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage recently published the draft Planning and Development Bill 2022 (the Bill) bringing the long awaited updated planning regime a step closer which represents a significant overhaul of the current planning system.  The Department has confirmed that the Bill is aimed at bringing greater clarity, consistency and certainty to how planning decisions are made and to make the planning system more coherent and user-friendly for the public and planners.

Ministerial Guidelines

The Bill makes a number of changes in respect of Ministerial guidelines and policy directives to give them stronger legal status. 

It provides that these the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Ministerial may, with Government approval, issue “National Planning Statements" which will comprise "National Planning Policies and Measures” and “National Planning Policy Guidance”. It shall be a requirement for other plans to be materially consistent with the National Planning Statements and to align with the policies and measures and in doing so, complying with the aim of continuity in all areas.

Development Plan Lifespan

Local Authority Development Plans will be extended from six years to ten years, with a review after year five. They will need to give a strong sense of what is being planned for at an early stage in the process before any planning applications emerge and will also need to be more strategic in nature. There will be a move from a need based on population size to be replaced by specific types of area-based plans to meet particular needs. These include: Urban Area Plans; Priority Area Plans; Joint Area Plans; and Strategic Development Zones / Urban Development Zones.

Mandatory timelines for Consent Processes

The Bill provides for statutory mandatory timelines for all consent processes, including An Bord Pleanála (ABP) decisions. The exact timelines are yet to be published, however ABP will be subject to fines if they do not comply with the timelines and will have to publish details on its website and in its Annual Report.

Changes to Judicial Reviews of planning decisions

The Bill also provides for timelines for various steps in the judicial review (JR) process, including for pleadings, hearing of cases and delivery of judgements by the Court. ABP will be able to correct an error of fact or law in a planning decision and will be able to apply for a stay on the determination of JR proceedings while making any corrections.  
Included in the Bill are costs protection for JR cases, there will be no no order for costs, except where the court considers that the proceedings are frivolous or vexatious, or an abuse of process.

Re-structuring of ABP

The Bill seeks to restructure ABP, to be called An Coimisiún Pleanála or the Commission. It is intended that the decision-making and governance structure will be separated and that this will result in quicker decisions and a more cohesive process. 


The draft Bill is a most welcome overhaul of the planning system in Ireland for all those involved in and reliant on the process. However, there will no doubt be huge challenges ahead in passing the draft Bill into law and transitioning to the new regime.

If you have any queries on this, or any property law matter, please contact the team at OSM Partners LLP