DoE2 Department of Environment - County

A Chara,



I am directed by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to refer to your recent letter in relation to the above and set out hereunder observations on behalf of the Minister.


The Department has reviewed the Draft Plan and considers that it provides a clear strategic framework for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and gives spatial expression to the economic, social, cultural and environmental aims of the County.  The Department wishes to compliment the Planning Authority on the thorough and comprehensive manner in which it has addressed issues which are required to be covered in the Development Plan.


However, there are a number of issues with the draft Development Plan as submitted, relating to presentation and monitoring which the Council is requested to address and these are set out below. 


The Planning Authority should also have regard to any issues raised separately by the South West Regional Planning Authority, National Roads Authority, Office of Public Works and National Parks and Wildlife Service and satisfy themselves that they have addressed the requirements as appropriate.


Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended)

The planning department is to be complemented in its approach to reducing the volume of objectives contained within the draft plan.  However, in accordance with Section 10 of the Planning and Development Act (as amended) the Council should ensure that the draft plan is consistent with the requirements and mandatory objectives as set out therein.  The Department notes that the overall numbers of objectives in the draft plan have been significantly reduced to improve implementation of key objectives in the life of the plan and that there appears to be no specific policies proposed when compared to the existing Kilkenny County Development Plan 2008 – 2014.   The Council should note that as set out in the Development Plan Guidelines (2007), development plans should offer clear guidance to developers in framing development proposals and to the planning authority in assessing such proposals.  Therefore, the Council should satisfy itself that the reduced number of objectives and absence of specific policies are sufficient to fulfill the  role of the development plan in the development management process with particular reference to Section 34 of the Planning Act (as amended).  Where objectives and policies are proposed they should be clearly identified within the body of the text to ensure easy access for all users of the plan.


Expired Local Area Plan Guidance

The Department notes that Section states that the Local Area Plans for Ballyhale, Ballyragget, Freshford, Goresbridge, Inistioge, Kells, Knocktopher, Mooncoin, Mullinavat, Slieverue, Stoneyford and Urlingford have expired.  It is further stated that each of these towns is subject to a map within the draft plan which depicts a settlement boundary (Figures 3.2 - 3.13 refers); that there will be no land use zoning objectives in these settlements and that the expired Local Area Plans will be used as supplementary guidance documents for planning purposes.  The Department is of the view that the absence of zoning objectives and a clear vision and policy framework to guide development within the “settlement boundary” of these towns could be problematic. Given the number of settlements involved it raises concerns in regard to the lack of clarity which now exists for developers in framing development proposals for these areas and the lack of statutory support to the planning authority in assessing such proposals. The use of expired Local Area Plans without update, to guide new development in these settlements is also a concern.  The Department advises that the Council review this policy and consider updating the relevant Local Area Plans with a view to indicating  objective for the relevant  towns as part statutory development plan  in order to  provide for the proper planning and development of these settlements.



The Department, having regard to the phased zoning maps set out in Figures 3.14 – 3.16 for Bennettsbridge, Kilmacow and New Ross advise that the Council consider  including clear  criteria for bringing forward phase 2 lands for significant residential development in the life of the plan.  In this regard the Council may wish to consider the inclusion of one or more of the following criteria: 


·         At least 75% of phase 1 lands have been fully developed, or;

·         At least 75% of phase 1 lands have been fully committed to development (i.e. where planning permission has been granted and where construction is underway), or,

·         In the case where all phase 1 lands have not been committed, proof  that those uncommitted lands are unavailable for development or unserviceable and that phase 2 lands are readily serviceable,

·         There is a proven demand for new development based on a demonstrated lack of availability of housing and of potential infill sites.


General Government Guidance (Section 28 Guidelines & Circulars)

The Council should ensure that, in accordance with Section 28 (1)(a) and (b) of the Planning and Development Act (as amended), the draft plan has regard to all relevant National Guidelines and Circulars and that such references are up to date and accurate.  Particular attention is drawn to the Guidelines on Development Contributions published in 2013.  If the planning authority has formed the opinion that it is not possible to implement certain policies and objectives contained in the Guidelines, a reasoned justification for this approach by way of explanation needs to be set out in the Development Plan.


Monitoring and Implementation

The Department notes the references throughout the plan to the need for the preparation of a progress report on the achievement of objectives and targets in the plan within two years after adoption.   In this regard, the Council is requested to consider the inclusion of effective monitoring systems in the development plan in order to facilitate periodic review of the progress or otherwise of the implementation of the policies and objectives of the development plan within the life of the plan.  It could include, for example, a table with a list of projects and or other targets and projections along with time-frames for stages of progress towards their achievement which could be reviewed on a periodic basis throughout the plan period.



The Department is of the view that in any user friendly plan it should be easy for all readers to grasp the meaning and content quickly and find the relevant parts without difficulty.  Therefore, having regard to the diverse and comprehensive nature of development plans the Council is asked that consideration be given to the inclusion of a summary overview of the plans key objectives at the start of the plan.  Any such summary should be comprehensively supplemented with maps and diagrams as users of the plan will generally focus their initial attention on the maps and illustrations for information.




Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) & Appropriate Assessment (AA)

The planning authority should satisfy themselves in consultation with NPWS that the Kilkenny Draft County Development Plan 2014 – 2020 is fully compliant with its obligations under the SEA and Habitats Directive.


Finally, for your information, the Planning Authority is reminded that plan maps should be prepared in a format that enables that authority to input plans into the Departments development plan geographical system (


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Department of Environment, Community and Local Government
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