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Planners To Ensure Long-Term Suitability Of New Bill

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Gavin Lawlor, President of the Irish Planning Institute, has said that planners must ensure that the Planning and Development Bill going through the Oireachtas, is suitable for the long term.

Mr Lawlor stated that planners should ensure that the bill doesn't slow the legislative process down as he addressed over 300 professionals from across the planning, construction and sustainability sectors at the Institute's annual conference in Waterford. He said: "In its current form this Bill is not fit for purpose. It will have a detrimental impact on citizen engagement in the planning process, and it proposes unrealistic timelines, guidelines and compliance, making aspects of the Bill unworkable.

"Our ambition is not to slow down the Bill but to work with policy makers to get it right. We have made a number of submissions on the legislation and engaged very constructively and openly but remain convinced that the Bill requires further section-by-section consultation and review with practitioners so that the implications in practice of the new measures can be considered.

"The IPI want to see a Bill that serves the needs of society and the common good for generations to come. We remain fully committed to working with the Minister, Minister of State, Department, Oireachtas members and all stakeholders to make sure this legislation is fit for purpose, and we look forward to seeing further revisions and amendments at Report Stage."

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In his first address as President, Gavin Lawlor emphasised the crucial role of planners in advancing climate action and sustainability. He also aims to attract more people to planning as a career and foster unity within the profession.

He added: "Sustainability is at the heart of what we do. Planners understand the issues of climate, biodiversity, demography and economic development but our voice risks being drowned out by those that don’t have a holistic understanding of these issues. Planners know how to ensure the housing and infrastructure we need is delivered for the benefit of the environment and society and we need to be more assertive about the skills and knowledge we bring.”

"To do this we have to work collaboratively. Much of this year’s conference programme is about building understanding across the planning, technology, construction and sustainability sectors but we also need to build understanding across the planning profession itself and break down barriers."

Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr Joe Conway said: "This year's conference will focus on planning for smart, sustainable, and competitive regions and cities, and it is our vision in Waterford City and County Council to make Waterford City ʻthe most liveable city in Irelandʼ where our growing population can sustainably live, work and play.

"The North Quays is a flagship sustainable urban regeneration project. The project creates the opportunity to develop a sustainable and exemplary city centre by connecting the north and south sides of the city and will reduce dependency on travel by private car and will increase the modal shift of journeys to walking and cycling, and further encourage this by the creation of high-quality public realm space. The overall North Quays project is a model for the proper integration of land use planning and transport planning which is critical to delivering the smart, sustainable and competitive cities needed to meet our future challenges.

"Waterford City and County Council, in partnership with the Urban Regeneration & Development Fund and other stakeholders is also investing in the regeneration of the heart of the historic city centre, while investment in the sustainable regeneration of Waterford’s towns and villages is also continuing with the support of the Rural Regeneration Development Fund."

Among the speakers at this year's IPI Conference are Peter Mullan, the newly appointed chair of An Bord Pleanála, who delivered the keynote address and Michael Flood from the OECD.

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