The Planning Code is made up of both primary and secondary legislation – i.e. Acts and Regulations. The framework is set out in the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 and the detail is prescribed in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2007.
The basic starting point for the modern planning code is the Planning and Development Act 2000. This act consolidated all planning legislation from 1963 to 1999 and codified much of what had grown up in custom and practice during that time, clarifying and simplifying the overall process into one self-contained piece of legislation. The 2000 act remains the basis for the Irish planning code, setting out the detail of regional planning guidelines, development plans and local area plans as well as the basic framework of the development management and consent system. Among other things, it provides the statutory basis for protecting our natural and architectural heritage, the carrying out of Environmental Impact Statements and the provision of social and affordable housing.
There have been a number of changes to the legislation since 2000, the most significant of which are set out;
- The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002.
- The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004, which made substantial changes to Part V of the act. Implementation of these elements are the responsibility of Housing Division.
- The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006, which provided for, among other things, the establishment of a streamlined consent procedure for certain types of major infrastructure and the creation of a specialised division within An Bord Pleanála to take decisions in relation to such projects.
The principal regulations underpinning the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2006 are the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. They also consolidate all previous regulations made under the 2000 Act and replace the Local Government (Planning and Development) Regulations 1994-2000. They prescribe the detail of the various processes and procedures that make up the planning code. Some significant amendments have been made to these regulations, notably the Planning and Development Regulations 2006 which had two main functions. Firstly to take account of a review of the 2001 regulations carried out in 2004 and to incorporate elements of the public participation Directive and secondly, to underpin the new strategic consent procedure established under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.
However, the changes made relate in the main to the development management system and are aimed at clarifying and simplifying the process and procedures involved. Among the provisions made by the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2007 are the classes of exempted development, the specific steps required when making an application to a planning authority or an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, the process which must be followed by local and state authorities when undertaking certain types of development and the various fees associated with applications to planning authorities. Further regulations were introduced in 2007, setting out new exemptions for certain types of micro-renewable energy generating equipment for use in domestic circumstances, and making further adjustments to the development management regulations.