The OPR has responsibility for independently assessing all statutory local authority development plans with a view to ensuring that the plan provides for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area concerned.
When we assess a plan, and consider that the plan is not consistent with statutory requirements, does not comply with the objectives of the National Planning Framework (NPF) or Regional Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES), or with Ministerial guidelines, we can make recommendations to local authorities to address the matter.
Once a local authority informs the OPR that it has adopted its plan, the OPR conducts an independent assessment of the plan. If the OPR finds that the plan is not consistent with any recommendations we made, the OPR may issue a proposed draft Direction to the Minister recommending that powers of direction be used to compel the local authority to address the matter.
The Minister decides whether or not to issue a draft Direction to the local authority compelling them to take action.
If the Minister decides to issue a draft Direction, it commences a process by the local authority, including public consultation, after which the OPR will further consider the plan with a view to recommending, or not, that the Minister issues a Direction.
Finally, if the Minister agrees with the OPR’s proposed Direction, they issue a Direction to the local authority.
Within four weeks of plan adoption date
Step 1: OPR Proposed Draft Direction
The OPR prepares a draft Direction where it recommends to the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to instruct the local authority to address inconsistencies with statutory requirements in its plan.
The OPR outlines how the plan is inconsistent with its recommendations made at draft plan and/or material alterations stage of the review process and fails to set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
The proposed draft Direction is published on the OPR’s website.
Within six weeks of the plan adoption date
Step 2: Minister’s Draft Direction
The Minister considers the recommendation of the OPR and;
- If agrees, issues a draft Direction to the local authority. Those part of the plan subject to the draft Direction, do not come into effect in the adopted plan..
- If disagrees, prepares a statement outlining the reasons for not agreeing with the OPR. This statement is laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
The Minister’s draft Direction and/or statement is published on the OPR’s website.
Public consultation opens within two weeks of receiving the draft Direction. Consultation lasts for a maximum of two weeks.
Step 3: Public Consultation on Draft Direction
Where the Minister issues a draft Direction to the local authority, they must put it on public display for a maximum of two weeks.
During this period, anybody can make submissions to the local authority on the draft Direction. The OPR can only receive submissions from elected members from the local authority area.
Within four weeks of closing date of the consultation
Step 4: Chief Executive’s Report on Public Consultation on Draft Direction
The Chief Executive of the local authority prepares a report on the submissions received and makes a recommendation(s) as to how the draft Direction should be addressed.
The report is issued to the OPR and the Minister.
Within three weeks of OPR receiving the chief executive’s report
Step 5: OPR Proposed Direction
The OPR considers the Minister’s draft Direction, the chief executive’s report and any submissions received directly from elected members.
- The OPR can make a recommendation to the Minister to issue a Direction with or without minor amendments.
- The OPR can appoint an inspector where there is a material amendment proposed to the Minister’s draft Direction or further investigation is deemed necessary.
The OPR’s recommendation to the Minister, the report of the inspector (and any submissions made), are published on the OPR’s website.
Within six weeks of receiving OPR’s recommendation
Step 6: Minister’s Direction
The Minister considers the OPR’s recommendation to issue a Direction and;
- If agrees, issues a Direction to the local authority. The Direction takes immediate effect.
- If disagrees, prepares a statement outlining the reasons for not agreeing with the OPR, which is laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
The Minister’s Direction and/or statement is published on the OPR’s website.
When the Minister issues a Direction to a local authority, it has immediate effect and its terms are incorporated into the plan.
Therefore, the contents of the Direction overwrite the relevant sections of the adopted plan.
Disclaimer: While every care has been taken in the preparation of this Directions Process information, the Office of the Planning Regulator assumes no responsibility for and gives no guarantees concerning the accuracy, completeness or up to date nature of the information provided and accepts no liability arising from any errors or omissions. Please notify any errors, omissions and comments by email to email@example.com