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Planning watchdog 'to restore confidence in system'

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 yesterday approved proposals for the preparation of legislation to establish the Office of Planning Regulation.

The regulator will have powers to regulate all planning functions of local authorities, review their decisions and plans, and launch investigations if necessary. Housing and Planning Minister Jan O'Sullivan said the planning regulator would provide an additional and important check on the quality of planning decisions.

"The implementation of this important recommendation is another tangible reform that will achieve the Government's goal of restoring and maintaining public confidence in our planning system."

Once established after the Planning and Development Bill legislation is approved, the office will be staffed and resourced by staff taken on secondment, or on a permanent basis, from An Bord Pleanala.

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

Irish Independent