Development plans


Development plans set out your local authority’s planning policies for your area. A development plan lasts for 6 years. Local authorities must begin work on a new development plan 4 years after the start date of the last plan.

However, due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 restrictions these timelines can be extended. Local authorities can take an additional year to prepare a new development plan, and can extend the existing one to cover this period. The local authority must ensure that an extension would not have a negative environmental impact. They must also publicise their plan to extend the timelines and take observations on this. These extensions and the rules about how they apply came in under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2021 and are in place until 1 January 2024.

What is a development plan?

A development plan consists of a written statement and series of maps that describe how your local authority aims to use particular areas, for example, residential, industrial or agricultural areas. It also sets out development objectives for the area, such as plans to improve roads and local amenities.

Do national plans influence local development plans?

Development plans must be compatible with national and regional planning strategies, including:

  • The National Planning Framework, which sets out the national strategy for developments.
  • The Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies, which detail plans for the 3 regional areas in Ireland.

Each development plan is examined by the Office of the Planning Regulator to ensure that it is not in opposition to national and regional strategies.

Development plans must also have an environmental report that highlights any significant environmental effect the plan may have.

Find out more about the planning system in Ireland (pdf).

Can I give feedback about a development plan?

Yes. Local authorities look for feedback from the public when they are working on a new development plan.

When a new development plan is being prepared, your local authority will publish its intention to review the plan in local or national media. You can make observations, submissions and suggestions at this time.

The local authority then publishes a notice to say that a draft plan is available. This plan is put on public display for at least 10 weeks. You can make submissions on what the local authority is proposing at this stage. If applicable, you can also participate at the amended draft plan stage.

All submissions that are made within the specified timeframes must be considered before the final plan is adopted. Various statutory agencies as well as voluntary and community organisations in your area are also consulted and asked to give any specialist advice and observations before the plan is finalised.

The Planning and Development, and Residential Tenancies Act 2020 (pdf) allows local authorities to hold public consultations about development plans online or in person.

Can a development plan influence my application for planning permission?

All planning applications in your area are measured against the development plan. Planning permission will normally only be given where the application is in accordance with the plan. For example, the plan will contain various "residential" or "industrial" areas. This indicates that developments of the appropriate type may get planning permission.

If you want to apply for planning permission, especially to build a house, you should look at the development plan in your area first.

Page edited: 18 August 2021