What is a Development Plan?

A County Development Plan (CDP) is the overarching strategic framework, setting out key strategies, policies and objectives for a given county and plays a major role in influencing future growth, development and sustainable planning practices for a period of 6 years. CDPs form part of a hierarchy of planning and development srategies. In accordance with the provisions of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010, it is now a mandatory legal requirement that CDPs are ‘consistent with’ the relevant Regional Planning Guidelines and the National Spatial Strategy. These long term national and regional development strategies are shaped by planning law and a plethora of government guidelines relating to topics including transport, housing and the environment. In general, CDPs consist of a written statement and accompanying maps. CDPs include a vision for the overall county and include specific policies and objectives pertaining to a wide range of issues including housing, infrastructure, water, transport, natural and built heritage and climate change. Policies and objectives outlined in the Development Plans are factors against which planning applications are assessed. Any vagueness or ‘let-out’ clauses contained in a CDP can cause interpretation problems for the public, developers and officials and can result in delays in the planning process.

Why are Development Plans Important?

As populations continue to grow, areas are often faced with increasing pressures and problems. CDPs can represent a catalyst for positive change and allow for areas to develop in a plan led, sustainable manner. The planning system plays a vital role in the achievement of sustainable development. Resolution 42/187 of the United National General Assembly has defined sustainable development as ‘meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’. CDPs should strive to establish a coherent framework for the coordinated sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental development of a county. CDPs provide land-use zoning objectives for areas within the county. Zoning should support the principles of sustainable development, the integration of land use and transportation and the consolidation of urban centres. Land-use zoning that is predicated on sustainable development practices can provide economic, social and environmental benefits. CDPs should be reflective of a county’s diverse and unique features and should ensure that future development is directed in a manner that would maximize potential for the area.

Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025

The process for the formulation of the new Meath County Development Plan has commenced. A key challenge of the new Meath CDP will be to address the significant quantum of available zoned land and to align the location of zoning with the core strategy and key elements of the Regional Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area. An Taisce have raised specific concerns in relation to the quantum of zoned residential land and the location impact of all zoning on traffic generation and emissions of both residential and commercial development on climate and human beings. The current zoning and land use in areas of Co. Meath has resulted in unsustainable sprawl which can have serious impacts on the quality of life, economic vitality and environmental quality. The new CDP needs to address this unsustainable development pattern and focus on compact forms of land use and efficient use of resources. The CDP needs to establish compact development patterns, strengthen and direct development towards existing communities, and integrate land use with transportation. The benefits of implementing a shift from sprawl to sustainability would create central spaces, preserve environmentally sensitive lands and resources, reduce dependency on private modes of transport and vehicle miles travelled, contribute to Ireland’s Greenhouse Gas reduction targets and improve the quality of life of the citizens. An Taisce have submitted that further non-public transport accessible accommodation of commuter housing or employment location directed by demand generated from the GDA would be negative in effect on the environment. In addition, Co. Meath benefits from a wealth of rich heritage of demesnes, designated landscape associated with Castles and Country Houses. An Taisce have recommended that the most significant demesnes and designated landscape in the county be identified and planning policies applied to maintain and enhance their special character and significance in considering agricultural, recreation or other development.

How can you get involved?

The public will ultimately be affected by policies and objectives in a CDP. The formulation of Development Plans can allow us to design and distribute places and activities in a manner that can promote better quality of life, social outcomes and environmental quality. The public will be afforded the opportunity to contribute to the formulation of a CDP. The review of the Meath County Development Plan 2019-2025 has commenced. Submissions on Stage 1 of the process were being accepted by Meath County Council by 17th February. The next stage of the review process, Stage 2, will involve the publication of a draft County Development Plan. The public will have the opportunity to review the draft plan and make observation, submissions and suggestions for consideration to Meath County Council.

Doireann Ní Cheallagih - Planning Officer (01) 454 1786