Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
County Development Plans
150. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to suspend or extend the county development plan preparation and consultation processes in view of the restriction on public gatherings as a consequence of Covid-19. [30763/20]
In light of the impacts of the Covid-19 emergency, the Government, on 29 March 2020, made an Order under section 251A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), which resulted in the extension of time for a range of specified or appropriate periods and timelines in the Planning Acts and associated planning regulations. Further orders were signed on 16 April 2020 and 9 May 2020, the last of which expired on 23 May 2020. The three Orders had the combined effect of extending the relevant planning periods and timelines, by an aggregate of 56 days/8 weeks during the time period in which they have effect.
On 15 September 2020, the Government published its latest response to managing Covid-19 - Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for living with Covid-19. While I don't envisage any further actions will be required for the planning system in relation in the context of this framework at this time, I continue to keep this matter under review.
In particular, I note the role that public participation plays in the process of making or varying a County Development Plan and there are specific requirements in Section 11 of the Act in this regard. Local authorities must endeavour to operate to satisfy these requirements in accordance with public health guidance and related operating procedures, which are likely to require innovative solutions to ensure that public consultation requirements can be satisfied. In view of public health considerations, public engagement should maximise the use of electronic means, where possible.
It is important to note that under Section 12(16) of the Act, the validity of a development plan may not be questioned by reason only that certain procedures were not completed within the timeframes set out in the Act.