Strategic Policy Context
Since the adoption of the Fingal Development Plan 2017 -2023, a number of new policy documents have issued for land use planning and development in Ireland. This section provides a general overview on key policies at a European, National and Regional level which will inform the preparation of the Fingal Development Plan 2023-2029.
In terms of the national hierarchy of spatial plans the overarching plan is the National Planning Framework (NPF) with the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) then setting out the regional framework and mechanism for implementation and delivery of the NPF.
The RSES also includes the Dublin Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan (MASP) which sets out the growth strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). Individual County Development Plans set out an overall strategy at local level and these Plans must be consistent with both the NPF and the RSES.
Fingal is identified in the RSES within the Dublin Region and partly within the MASP area, the area outside the MASP boundary is known as the Core Region.
The Development Plan sits within a hierarchy of plans and is required to have a Core Strategy which will show that the objectives within our Development Plan are consistent with the objectives set out in National and Regional Strategies.
Project Ireland 2040 - National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan 2018 - 2027
Project Ireland 2040 is the Government’s overarching policy initiative for the Country, and it is made up of the National Planning Framework (NPF) to 2040, and the National Development Plan (NDP), 2018 - 2027.
National Development Plan 2018 – 2027
The National Development Plan 2018 - 2027 (NDP) sets out the investment priorities that will underpin the implementation of the National Planning Framework, through a total investment of approximately €116 billion. This level of capital spending will ensure ongoing employment maintenance and creation with appropriate regional development. It will also provide clarity to the construction sector, allowing the industry to provide the capacity and capability required to deliver Government’s long-term investment plans.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform recently invited submissions to a review of the National Development Plan, in view of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and an evolving policy context. This review of the NDP provides an opportunity to ensure alignment between the NDP and the priorities identified in the Programme for Government including climate action, housing policy and transport policy.
Ireland 2040 Our Plan- The National Planning Framework
The NPF is the Government’s high-level strategic vision for shaping future growth and development in the entire Country over a 20 year period. The vision, as set out in the NPF, is to be delivered by way of a regionally focused strategy for managing growth and linking this growth to the NDP, to provide a counterbalance to the established concentration of growth in the Greater Dublin Area.
The NPF sets out a targeted pattern of growth for the Eastern and Midlands Region and Dublin City and these growth figures inform the delivery of national policy expressed in the NPF and the delivery of the RSES. The NPF identifies ten National Strategic Outcomes (NSOs) for the future growth and sustainable development of Ireland to 2040 which will be a central consideration in shaping the new Fingal Development Plan.
The NPF has a very clear focus on achieving Compact Growth and, more specifically, brownfield infill development which translates into encouraging more people, jobs and activity generally within existing built up areas rather than into new greenfield areas (National Policy Objective (NPO) 3b). This growth strategy will allow better use of underutilised serviced land and buildings, including infill and brownfield land, with more high-quality and high-density mixed-use development accompanied by enhanced amenities, education, health and social services; all supported by sustainable mobility.
The NPF acknowledges that rural areas make a major contribution to Ireland’s identity and to overall national development in economic, social, cultural and environmental terms. The NPF places a major focus on rural areas in relation to strengthening Ireland’s rural fabric and supporting the communities who live there; planning for the future growth and development of rural areas, supporting job creation, addressing connectivity gaps and better co-ordination of existing investment programmes dealing with social inclusion, rural development and town and village renewal.
Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy 2019 – 2031
The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly area sets out a strategic plan and investment framework to shape development and manage planning in the Region. The RSES translates the NPF objectives and the growth and settlement strategy at the regional level, ensuing coordination between the NPF and each County Development Plan.
The RSES identifies the region’s challenges as the need to sustain economic growth whilst transitioning to a low carbon society and the requirement to align population growth with the location of homes and jobs whilst creating healthy attractive places and an enhanced quality of life. The RSES is underpinned by three cross cutting principles; healthy placemaking, climate action and economic opportunity, which will be incorporated into all facets of our new Development Plan.
The growth strategy for the Region supports the continued sustainable growth of Dublin and its transition to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sensitive region in accordance with the Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan (MASP), which forms part of the RSES.
The MASP directs future growth to identified strategic residential and employment corridors based on their current and future development capacity, their ability to deliver outcomes such as compact development, place making, accessibility to public transport, potential for economic development and a reduced carbon footprint.
The RSES recognises the strategic location of Swords, in proximity to Dublin City, Dublin Airport, the national road network and Metrolink and it is specifically identified as one of three ‘Key Towns’ in the MASP area. These Key Metropolitan Towns have the capacity and future potential to accommodate above average growth in the Region with the requisite investment in employment creation, services, amenities and sustainable transport. Specific Regional Policy Objectives (RPO’s) are outlined for Swords.
Also relevant to Fingal is the ‘Metrolink – LUAS Corridor’ linking Swords and Dublin Airport to Dublin City and the ‘Dublin – Belfast Economic Corridor’ which is identified as another strategic connection. This Corridor is the largest economic agglomeration on the island of Ireland, with the cities and towns along the Dublin – Belfast Corridor home to a population of around 2 million people.
National Climate Action Plan 2019 – 2024
The National Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2019-24 acknowledges the key role that land use and spatial planning can play in ensuring that population growth is managed in a sustainable way, thus reducing our carbon footprint and all aspects of Government policy are underpinned by a commitment to Climate Action. The CAP identifies a set of actions to address the impacts of climate change on Ireland’s environment, society, economic and natural resources.
Both the NPF and the RSES establish the importance of addressing climate action and the need to promote sustainable and compact growth and to progress climate change mitigation and adaptation through land use planning. The NPF includes National Strategic Outcome No. 8 to ‘Transition to a Low Carbon and Climate Resilient Society’ and at a regional level, the RSES outlines climate action as one of the three key principles underpinning the Strategy in line with national policy.
Good planning policies, which promote a compact urban form, linking of transportation and land use planning, and the protection and enhancement of biodiversity create climate resilient communities and neighbourhoods. The policies and objectives that result in proper planning and sustainable development are consistent with those that result in a climate resilient society and this is recognised and supported in Fingal’s recently adopted Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024.
Climate action will continue to be a cross-cutting theme which is integrated into all parts of the new Fingal Development Plan.
Targets of Fingal County Council Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024:
reduction in the Council’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
Action Areas of Fingal County Council Climate Change Action Plan 2019-2024:
Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016 - 2035
The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) provides a framework for a sustainable transport network up to 2035. Key projects include:
- The Bus Connects project with a targeted timeline of 2021 - 2023.
- The extended Luas Tram line to Finglas anticipated to be delivered by 2028.
- Metro train line from the city to the Airport and Swords with a targeted delivery date of 2027.
- DART+ Programme 2018 – 2027.
Over the course of the next Development Plan, it is expected that many of these key infrastructural projects will either be delivered or be at an advanced stage of design/planning, which will greatly enhance accessibility in Fingal and the wider Dublin area.
The NTA has commenced a review process of the 2016 - 2035 Transport Strategy. This review will assess the implementation of the current plan and look to produce an updated strategy which will set out the framework for investment in transport infrastructure and services, up to 2042. This NTA Transport Strategy revision will be consistent with the spatial planning policies and objectives set out in the RSES and objectives will be consistent with the NPF and the NDP as set out in Project Ireland 2040. The Strategy will also be based on national policies on sustainability as set out in climate action and low carbon legislation, and in climate action plans. A Draft Strategy review is intended to be published in summer 2021.
Construction 2020 and Rebuilding Ireland
The publication of ‘Construction 2020: A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector’, (2014) and its partner ‘Planning Policy Statement’, (2015) represented a shift in the direction of planning and development policy toward a more ‘evidence-based’ and ‘plan-led’ approach to housing delivery facilitated through more ‘active land management’ practices.
The publication of ‘Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness’ in 2016 sought to deliver on the Government’s commitment to increase the provision of new homes and identified infrastructure-related blockages as the main impediment to the development of key sites for housing. To address this issue, the Government introduced a €200 million National Local Infrastructural Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) which aimed to provide public offsite infrastructure to accelerate the delivery of key LIHAF serviced sites. Fingal County Council was awarded LIHAF funding of €26.5 million, for strategic infrastructure across three sites at Donabate, Oldtown-Mooretown and Baldoyle-Stapolin.
Rebuilding Ireland also focused on regeneration and the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act, 2015, introduced the Vacant Site Levy as a tool to encourage the development of vacant and underutilised sites in urban areas for the purpose of housing and regeneration. Fingal County Council is firmly committed to continuing to investigate additional potential sites for inclusion on the Vacant Sites Register on an ongoing basis.
National Marine Planning Framework
In accordance with EU Directive 2014/89, work is currently underway on a National Marine Spatial Plan. Marine planning will contribute to the effective management of marine activities and more sustainable use of our marine resources. It will enable the Government to set a clear direction for managing our seas, to clarify objectives and priorities, and to direct decision makers, users and stakeholders towards more strategic and efficient use of marine resources. As Fingal is a coastal county the final plan / framework will be of importance to us.
Statutory Planning Guidelines (Section 28)
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage can issue Guidelines (under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000), which Planning Authorities are required to have regard to in carrying out their functions, including in the preparation of their Development Plans
There are several guidelines which have been issued in accordance with Section 28 and these cover a wide range of issues including building height, residential density and design, development management, childcare facilities and environmental assessment and will have implications for specific policies in the Plan.
New Section 28 Guidelines on County Development Plan preparation and Housing Needs Demand Assessment (HNDA) are expected shortly from Government and may be published during this Pre-Draft consultation phase