Apr 24, 2024 | Featured Articles

The priority of planners is to ensure that the Planning and Development Bill will be workable for the long term, not to slow the legislative process down, according to Gavin Lawlor, President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI).

During his address at this year’s IPI Conference in Waterford on 18-19 April to over 300 professionals from across the planning, construction and sustainability sectors on the progress of the Bill, which is currently passing through the Oireachtas, he said the Bill in its current form is not fit for purpose.

Addressing this year’s IPI Conference in Waterford on 18 April, IPI President Gavin Lawlor, pictured with Mayor of Waterford Cllr Joe Conway.

“It will have a detrimental impact on citizen engagement in the planning process, and it proposes unrealistic timelines, guidelines and compliance, making aspects of the Bill unworkable. Our ambition is not to slow down the Bill but to work with policy makers to get it right.”

The IPI President noted that the Institute has made several submissions on the legislation and has engaged very constructively and openly. However, he added that the Bill requires further section-by-section consultation and review with practitioners so that the implications in practice of the new measures can be considered.

“The IPI wants to see a Bill that serves the needs of society and the common good for generations to come. We remain fully committed to working with the Minister, Minister of State, Department, Oireachtas members and all stakeholders to make sure this legislation is fit for purpose, and we look forward to seeing further revisions and amendments at Report Stage.”

Gavin Lawlor, who became head of the Institute in January, also said his focus for the sector is to establish the critical role of planners in delivering climate action and sustainability. Attracting more people to planning as a career and ensuring the profession provides a united front are also priorities of his tenure.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. Planners understand the issues of climate, biodiversity, demography and economic development but our voice risks being drowned out by those that don’t have a holistic understanding of these issues,” he added.

“Planners know how to ensure the housing and infrastructure we need is delivered for the benefit of the environment and society and we need to be more assertive about the skills and knowledge we bring. To do this we have to work collaboratively.”

He noted that while most of this year’s conference programme has focused on building understanding across the planning, technology, construction and sustainability sectors, he pointed out that there is also “a need to build understanding across the planning profession itself and break down barriers”.



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