Office of the Planning Regulator Publishes First Annual Report

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has today, July 30th published its first Annual Report. An interactive animation of the key elements of the Annual Report is also available.

The report outlines some key activities of the OPR during its first year and identifies some significant trends and indicators which reflect Ireland’s planning performance in 2019.

Among the report’s findings are:

  • Approvals of apartment developments, key to sustainable urban development, exceeded housing for the first time in 2019. This was influenced by the Strategic Housing Development process of An Bord Pleanála, revised national guidance on apartment development and the Government’s National Planning Framework.
  • However, 55% of all houses in the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly area were permitted in the four commuter counties outside of Dublin (Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow) which poses a challenge to the Government’s planning objectives in tackling the sprawl of major urban areas, including Dublin.
  • Just over 32,000 planning applications were submitted to local authorities in 2019 and while there were variations in the levels of invalid planning applications, almost 90% of valid planning applications were approved.
  • The response to climate change was increasingly felt with significant approvals for renewable energy in terms of wind and solar energy.
  • Planning approvals of industrial and manufacturing development proposals doubled in 2019 which, along with the substantial increase in permissions granted in the tourism and recreational development sector, underscores the importance of the planning process to economic recovery and progress.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that much delayed new planning services such as an on-line application and submission system need fresh impetus and investment. This may also require a review of existing planning fees which have been in place since 2001 resulting in only €24m of income in 2018 to planning authorities against a cost of providing all planning services of €140m.

On the publication of the OPR’s first Annual Report, The Planning Regulator, Mr Niall Cussen said:

“The OPR is operating at time when the planning process will play a central role in how our cities, towns and villages develop. This is because over the next six years the OPR will evaluate close to 200 draft plans from around the country to measure how well they align with existing planning policy and regulatory requirements with view to ensuring that the plan provides for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area concerned.”

The report also outlines some of the OPR’s key activities in its first year, including how it:

  • Assessed and evaluated 25 local authority statutory plan stages. All recommendations made by the OPR relating to the 11 statutory plans adopted by local authorities in 2019 were implemented.
  • Received 91 unique complaints, submissions and queries from members of the public in relation to planning services.
  • Held training seminars on the planning process attended by 225 elected members of local authorities.
  • Formed a National Planning Knowledge Group to guide the development of the Office’s research and public awareness programmes.
  • Developed a free online planning library service, providing easy-to-access information on planning documents, research papers and resources.

For further information contact:
Daniel English
OPR, Communications Officer
Tel: 087 380 3964