New Guidelines for ensuring sufficient housing provision in each local authority area

The Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, has today issued new national guidelines for the preparation of local authority Development Plans. The revised guidelines aim to ensure Development Plans take into account the forecasted amount of housing in an area and that sufficient new homes can be built in key areas of housing demand. Development Plans outline where housing, infrastructure and services should be located over a six-year period.

‘Development Plans – Guidelines for Planning Authorities’ is intended as the ‘go-to’ reference manual for all those who may be involved in the often complex process of producing a county or city development plan. While principally aimed at local authority planners and councillors, they will also assist citizens and those involved in the development sector.

Welcoming the new guidelines, Minister Burke said:

“These revised planning guidelines will help planners, local elected representatives, the public and the development sector to develop the best possible plan for their area. It will also help ensure adequate provision is made for housing, particularly in areas of high demand. This is crucial at a time of such acute need.”

The Minister added:

“Planning and the development plan can be made much more effective if the process is understood by the public, through open communication that is accessible to the maximum number of people. To this end, my department has included many infographics as well as relevant case studies of good practices from around the country. I believe this will enhance the understanding of the Guidelines and ensure their effective implementation by planning authorities.”

The guidelines, revised for the first time since 2007, include:

  • a clear approach to ensuring that every development plan includes a sustainable long-term housing strategy, consistent with national housing targets and policies
  • a clear method for identifying and zoning lands for new housing, and prioritising lands that can most quickly and appropriately provide new homes. Longer-term development areas and strategic development sites that need more infrastructure work can also be facilitated for development in the future
  • confirmation that lands that are serviced and available for new housing construction should be retained as such, rather than be de-zoned
  • a shift towards targeting housing output and delivery
  • facilitation of development activity in cities, towns and urban areas that creates compact and integrated communities, aides brownfield regeneration, activates greenfield land-banks for housing and supports place-making and the growth of sustainable communities. This approach is underpinned by the new Residential Zoned Land Tax introduced under the Finance Act 2021 – which will apply where zoned and serviced land for housing remains undeveloped
  • assistance to local authorities and communities in adapting key national polices, like Town Centre First and the Climate Action Plan, into their local development strategy. Formulating specifically tailored local objectives and policies can greatly assist in accessing key funding opportunities to enable local development initiatives

Minister Burke added:

“A number of important issues raised in the submissions received have been incorporated into thefinal set of Guidelines and I would like to thank all who took the time and effort to make a contribution to the consultation. It has greatly assisted us in the production of what I believe will be a significant step forward in the quality of plan making over the next number of years.”

Publication of the revised guidelines fulfils a commitment in Housing for All, the government’s housing plan to 2030, to finalise section 28 guidelines on the making of Development Plans. The plan contains a range of actions and measures to ensure over 300,000 new social, affordable, cost rental and private homes are built by 2030, backed by over €20 billion in guaranteed State investment to the end of 2026. Data shows that Commencement Notices were received for the construction of over 30,000 homes between June 2021 and May 2022, 18.5% higher than the corresponding 2020-2021 period.

The preparation of a Development Plan is an essential function of every local authority, where important choices about the future development of the area are made for the next six years. The making of a development plan is a key exercise in local democracy, which includes community input at various stages of the two year preparation process, in order to produce the framework for local planning decisions.

A copy of the Development Plans Guidelines for Planning Authorities can be downloaded from the department’s website here: