Development plans

What is a development plan?

A development plan describes how your local authority will develop and use particular areas in your local authority area, for example:

  • Residential areas
  • Commercial areas
  • Industrial areas
  • Recreational areas
  • Agricultural areas

It also sets out the development objectives for your local authority area, such as plans to improve roads and local amenities.

A development plan is made up of a written statement and series of maps.

How long does a development plan last?

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.

The Planning and Development Bill 2023 intends to extend the life of development plans from 6 years to 10 years, with a review after 5 years. This suggested timeframe will line-up with when Census data is available to allow for a more strategic approach to planning. The Planning and Development Bill needs to be passed for this change to come in.

Do national plans influence local development plans?

Local 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
  • The National Climate Action Plan, which sets out how we will meet our greenhouse gas emission targets

Each development plan is examined by the Office of the Planning Regulator to ensure that it does not go against any national or regional strategies.

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

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 can I give feedback about a development plan?

When a new development plan is being prepared, your local authority will inform the public that they intend to review the plan. They will do this using:

  • Local or national media
  • Social media
  • Other web-based channels

You can make observations, submissions and suggestions for the development plan 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.

Some organisations in your area are consulted and asked to give any specialist advice and observations before the plan is finalised. For example, some state agencies and voluntary and community organisations.

Local authorities may also hold public consultations about development plans. They can do this online or in person.

All submissions that are made within the specified timeframes must be considered before the final development plan is adopted.

Can a development plan influence my application for planning permission?

All planning applications in your area are measured against the local development plan for your area. Planning permission will normally only be given if your application aligns with the development plan.

For example, the plan will contain different residential or industrial areas. So, developments that fit with how these areas have been designated 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.

More information on development plans

Find out more about the planning system in Ireland (pdf). have a useful document on Development Plans - Guidelines for Planning Authorities (pdf).

The Office of the Planning Regulator have also published a Guide to the Development Plan (pdf).

You can also contact someone from your local authority for more information.

Page edited: 12 March 2024