Development plans set out the overall planning policies of your local authority for a 6-year period. It consists of a written statement and a series of maps. Work on putting together a new development plan for your area must begin 4 years after the date of the last plan.
The development plan sets out your local authority's objectives for the use of particular areas where you live (for example, residential areas, industrial areas, agricultural areas). It also sets out your local authority objectives for development in the area, road improvements, renewal of obsolete areas and for improving amenities.
When a new development plan is being prepared, you can become involved at the initial stage when your local authority publishes its intention to review the plan. You will see notices about this intention in your local or national newspaper, or you might hear an announcement on local radio. You can also participate at the draft plan stage and if applicable, you can also participate at the amended draft plan stage. At all of these times, you can make observations, submissions and suggestions (within specified timeframes) about what your local authority is proposing.
When the notice is published that your local authority intends to make a new draft plan, the plan will be on public display for at least 10 weeks, during which time you can make submissions. All submissions that are made within the specified period must be considered before the final plan is adopted. Before the final plan has been adopted, various statutory agencies, voluntary and community organisations in your area are consulted and asked to give any specialist advice and observations.
All planning applications in your area are measured against the development plan, and planning permission will normally only be given where the application is in accordance with the plan. For example the plan will contain various areas zoned "residential" or "industrial". This indicates that developments of the appropriate type may get planning permission.
If you are proposing to apply for planning permission, especially if you want to build a house, you should look at the development plan first.
National Spatial Strategy
Regional guidelines and development plans must take into account the National Spatial Strategy. The National Spatial Strategy (pdf) is a national planning framework for Ireland from 2002-2020. The key to the strategy is balanced regional development through the co-ordinated development of gateway cities and towns and hub towns. The National Strategy also takes account of the European Spatial Development Perspective.