On the 15th of August, following the request from the Minister for Housing, the Expert Group have completed their high level review of the NPF. The purpose of the review is to guide and inform the preparation of an ‘Issues Paper’ relating to the first revision of the NPF. The public consultation on the Issues Paper is envisaged to be opened in November 2023.
The report of the Expert Group does not advocate for a deep revision of the NPF, but that it should instead be built upon and strengthened with the lessons learned over the 5 year interim period. It states that the revised NPF should be capable of challenging the status quo of main actors, while ensuring consistent and deliberate adherence to the standards set out in the framework. The report details a renewed effort to shift away from rural and car centred development, and a greater push toward compact growth and intensification. It advises against the granting of permission for homes and workplaces outside of established settlements, and guarding against zoning greenfield lands for development.
The expert group recommends 3 particular areas where the NPF can be improved, namely:
A link to the Report can be found here.
The expert group was tasked with setting out a high level view of the NPF and setting out a number of core recommendations which are to be considered during the review. The group set out 13 no. recommendations for the revised NPF, which are outlined below:
|The revision of the NPF should explore ways of making the five Metropolitan Area Strategic Plans more effective. This is key to ensuring that all Irish city-regions live up to their potential as European cities of scale.
|The revision of the NPF should critically review the current targets and consider stronger and more ambitious targets for compact growth.
|The revision of the NPF should consider the inherent unsustainability of scattered, uncoordinated patterns of new houses in the countryside and explore how to develop a new national strategic objective to direct new rural housing towards rural towns and villages and to restrict new urban-generated rural housing elsewhere.
|The revision of the NPF should seek to name the principles for identifying priority locations for the deployment of infrastructure at a strategic scale across the country.
|The revision of the NPF should explore ways of recognising the specific planning challenges that can occur within natural, geographical or transboundary sub-regions and of embedding this broader range of spatial entities within the scope of spatial planning.
|The revision of the NPF should consider ways in which the concept of Spatial Equity proofing could be brought forward for strategic planning in Ireland.
|The revision of the NPF should consider principles that would strengthen the link between the locations of new workplaces with its compact growth objectives.
|The revision of the NPF should consider a systematic evaluation of the National Strategic Outcomes and the National Policy Objectives to ensure that outcomes and objectives are clear and support consistent implementation.
|The revision of the NPF should consider the establishment of a dedicated unit which would monitor implementation of the NPF annually. The unit should be mandated to require all relevant Departments and relevant organisations (e.g., Local Authorities and Uisce Éireann) to report progress and report publicly on their performance against clear metrics, both investment (including the NDP) and impact metrics. The monitoring unit should also identify challenges in the implementation process.
|The revision of the NPF should consider clarification of the roles of all key National, Regional and Local Bodies to support the implementation of the NPF and to ensure alignment between the NPF and National, Regional and Local Plans, including County Development Plans.
|The revision of the NPF should consider the benefits of establishing a cross-departmental implementation group at the centre of Government which would systematically prioritise and co-ordinate decisions in relation to all key infrastructure decisions, including the NDP projects and programmes.
|The revision of the NPF should consider whether a Spatial Planning Council, with a membership from relevant professions and academic institutions, should be established to bring information to civic society that would broaden our understanding of the societal benefits of better national spatial planning in Ireland. Consideration should also be given to whether a consultative forum could contribute to this process by starting a national conversation on national spatial planning.
|The revision of the NPF should consider how the very strong enthusiasm for planning and sustainable development that is found in local community groups, businesses, civil society, and development bodies across the country might be supported and harnessed. This would help and to foster inclusive dialogue about strategic planning initiatives at all spatial scales.