Dublin, Ireland. Photo credit: Flickr/Robert Linsdell.
The National Planning Framework should be a truly ambitious document that establish key objectives for Ireland in the short, medium and long term and how these will be delivered spatially. It provides a real opportunity to achieve ambitions such as sustainable development, sustainable economic growth and to tackling climate change.
RTPI Ireland believes that a number of principles should be at the heart of developing the NPF:
1. It should be ambitious. The NPF should be seen as a document which can be used to attract investment to the right places in Ireland whilst it should be clear about those areas that should be protected. This will require the NPF facing up to often difficult decisions where there will be winners and losers.
2. It should prioritise. The current economic climate means that now, more than ever, there is a need to prioritise investment and the levers that can encourage investment, such as infrastructure. Given this we feel that there is a need to ensure that the NPF incorporates and articulates realistic options for growth, no growth, and negative growth across Ireland.
3. It should be integrative. A key role for the NPF is to bring together and reconcile the objectives of various other strategies and objectives published by the Government and its Agencies. These include, for example the Marine Plan; Transport; Low Carbon strategy; Energy strategy; Broadband; Tourism Development; Regeneration; Health Inequalities; Housing; Education; Waste Strategy and Town and Village Centres.
4. It should be influential. The NPF should lead, rather than follow. It should be seen as the key spatial plan for the Government who should ensure that its various strategies and subsequent resource allocation are taken forward within the context of the document.
5. It should be clear and holistic. There is a need to ensure that the NPF is clear on its vision, aim, objectives and priorities. This will require precise wording and expression in the document and clarity on areas the appropriateness of development or protection.
6. It should focus on delivery. RTPI Ireland feels that it is worth exploring the idea of the NPF working towards a number of specific national targets, framed within a number of national outcomes, which are set out in a broader planning policy.
7. It should focus on outcomes. It would be useful if the NPF was focused around delivering a number of key outcomes such as a low carbon Ireland promoting renewable energy; a connected Ireland; an inclusive Ireland; an economically successful Ireland; and a country that clearly has to the fore quality of life.
8. The NPF needs to be linked directly linked to planning policy, and vice versa. It is essential that there is a clear relationship between the NPF and existing planning policy. There may be a case for a producing an overarching policy document that sits alongside setting out the key policies of the Government. Both documents should have the same outcomes and targets with the policy document dealing with the ‘how’ and the NPF outlining ‘where’.
9. There needs to be clarity on where the NPF links with other policy, guidance, advice and good practice. Links have to be made with, and clarity given on the status of, key documents policy and guidance published by other parts of Government and by other government agencies who would appear to wish to set their own agendas, targets and aspirations.
10. NPF needs to be based on sound evidence and needs to be monitored to ensure it continues to be fit for purpose. A sound and transparent evidence base must be in place to demonstrate why policy directions and priorities have been taken in the NPF. There is an opportunity to define the indicators that are required to monitor the NPF and link these with emerging indicators at the development planning level.
John Downey MRTPI
John Downey is Chair of RTPI Ireland. @John_JK_Downey