Tuesday, 9 April 2019
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
119. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the progress that has been made regarding the provision of serviced sites as outlined in Project Ireland 2040; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16375/19]
The National Planning Framework (NPF), published as part of Project Ireland 2040, sets out the Government’s overarching strategic planning approach underpinning the proper planning and sustainable development of urban and rural areas in the period to 2040.
National Policy Objective 15 of the NPF supports the sustainable development of rural areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades. Furthermore, under National Policy Objective 18b, my Department is committed to developing a programme with local authorities, public infrastructure agencies, such as Irish Water, and local communities for the provision of serviced sites for housing to attract people to build their own homes and live in small towns and villages.
The development of such a programme must take account of lessons learned from experience with so called “Developer Provided Water Services Infrastructure” (DPI), which my Department’s National Taking in Charge Initiative (NTICI) examined and reported on. The report is available on my Department’s website at the following link:
I understand that Irish Water will be bringing forward proposals for a Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme which will support a number of the National Policy Objectives and National Strategic Outcomes under the NPF. The Small Towns and Villages Growth Programme is intended to provide water and wastewater growth capacity in smaller settlements which would not otherwise be provided for in Irish Water’s Investment Plan, based on an identified need against set criteria.
Irish Water is subject to regulation by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). The proposals from Irish Water in this regard form part of its submissions to the CRU on its detailed investment plans. These submissions are currently being considered by the CRU and a decision is expected in the second half of 2019.
The broad approach outlined in the document “Water Services Guidelines for Planning Authorities” which I published last year in draft format under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), is to ensure that there is effective coordination between planning authorities in their planning functions, Irish Water in its rolling capital investment programmes and local community interests.The draft Guidelines highlight that it is the policy of Irish Water to facilitate connections to existing infrastructure, where capacity exists, in order to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and reduce additional investment costs; and that there is a general presumption that development will be focused into areas that are serviced by public water supply and wastewater collection networks with the exception of domestic systems for single dwellings. I propose to issue final Guidelines shortly.