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A vision for the Irish National Planning Framework


John Downey outlines what RTPI Ireland is looking for from a new National Planning framework for Ireland.

A new National Planning Framework (NPF) is being produced for Ireland. It should be a truly ambitious document that establishes key objectives for ‘all’ Ireland and how these will be delivered spatially. It provides a chance to achieve sustainable development and economic growth, tackle climate change and maybe even address some Brexit issues. 

Planning has a vital role in supporting the Irish Government’s ambitions on sustainable development, economic growth, engagement, climate change, placemaking and logic-located new development. 
The NPF can help to provide carteinty, clarify ambitions and show how the planning system can work to best effect – and as a more central part of government. 

It can be a tool to provide certainty for planning authorities, developers, investors and communities. This requires the NPF to have a framework including an action plan that links to resources. It should outline clear policy and geographical priorities that indicate its implications for specific sectors or areas of Ireland. It should also be seen as an investment strategy.

 “The government should ensure that the NPF is a corporate document that influences other key government strategies”

It should nurture the growth of the Dublin city region, which competes globally, especially in IT, pharma and finance. But it must also harness the economic benefits for the rest of the country.

The NPF can also provide clarity of ambition by setting out the high-level goals government is aiming to achieve and planning’s role in supporting these. It should also set out spatial priorities and the indicators that will be used to monitor progress. It needs to be precisely and unambiguously worded.

The NPF can help to establish a clear hierarchy for decision-making. This requires government to clearly set out the policies and strategies to achieve its aspirations. It should also establish the means of delivering these, which should be contained in an action programme. 

It can be a framework that allows all parts of government and its agencies, planning authorities and those engaging with the planning system to work more smartly. It should provide a context that focuses the work of the government, agencies and planning authorities on those tasks that make best use of limited resources. 

The government should ensure that the NPF is a corporate document that influences other key government strategies, policies and investment decisions.

The plan is being formulated in Ireland and RTPI Ireland is on the consultative panel. To comment on it, please contact John or the branch

John Downey is chair of RTPI Ireland and a member of the European Council of Spatial Planners

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