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Sunday 20 October 2019

New planning watchdog recommended by Mahon Tribunal is set up

Housing and Planning Minister Jan O’Sullivan
Housing and Planning Minister Jan O’Sullivan

Treacy Hogan

A PLANNING regulator is being appointed by the Government to act as watchdog over decisions made by local authorities.

Setting up the office was the key recommendation in the Mahon Tribunal more than a year ago.

The tribunal found corruption affected “every level of Irish political life” and called for the establishment of an independent planning regulator.

The Cabinet today approved proposals for the preparation of legislation to establish the office.

Housing and Planning Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the government had given its commitment to implement the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal.

“We need to ensure that the decisions we take regarding local and regional development facilitate sustainable development and enhance the lives of our citizens and the communities in which we live.”

She said the planning regulator would provide an additional and important check on the quality of planning decisions.

The regulator will review and assess all planning functions by local authorities such as the drafting of city and county development plans.

The regulator will also have the power to advise the Minister for Environment to reject or overturn part or all of a plan where it is not up to scratch.

The office holder will also be able to launch investigations into allegations of impropriety.

Ms O’Sullivan said : “The new Planning Regulator will bring an additional layer of transparency to the planning system while maintaining democratic accountability which is essential for public trust.”

The office will be staffed and resourced by staff taken on secondment or on a permanent basis from An Bord Pleanala.

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