Dáil Éireann - Volume 639 - 10 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Community Facilities.

Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps being taken to implement the commitment given in the Programme for Government to ensure that local authorities prioritise the provision of community and recreational facilities as part of their development plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22807/07]

  Deputy John Gormley: Development plans provide the blueprint for the sustainable development of an area, including the co-ordinated provision of infrastructure and services. Requirements for public open space and recreation space provision in connection with development proposals, particularly residential development, should be clearly set out in the development plan.

Planning authorities must respond to the circumstances of their own local communities when formulating their development plans, and identify the appropriate facilities required. Generally, appropriate policies and objectives for inclusion in plans will relate to allocation and reservation of land, setting appropriate development control standards and indicating provision of specific facilities. Development contributions can also be sought by planning authorities to help pay for facilities servicing new developments including community and other recreational amenities.

My Department has issued guidelines to planning authorities on preparing and managing [672] development plans which emphasise the need for integrated provision of both infrastructure and supporting services to facilitate the development of sustainable communities, and provide for a better quality of life in working, home and leisure environments.

Section 10(2)(d) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 requires a development plan to include objectives for “the integration of the planning and sustainable development of the area with the social, community and cultural requirements of the area and its population.” This objective allows for linkage to be made between the development plan and the County Development Board’s strategy which is intended to bring the socio-economic and physical planning processes closer together. The land use policies of the development plan should be informed by and reflect the socio-economic and cultural considerations of the strategy.

Similarly, section 10(2)(l) of the Act requires a development plan to include objectives for “the provision, or facilitation of the provision, of services for the community including, in particular, schools, crèches and other education and childcare facilities.” Community facilities falling within this mandatory objective can include places of worship, hospital and health centres, facilities for the elderly and persons with disabilities, facilities for children’s play including playgrounds, skateboard parks and other facilities, libraries and community halls.

The priority the Government attaches to achieving greater integration between planning, housing and infrastructure provision is also reflected in the assignment of specific responsibility for “developing areas” to Minister Batt O’Keeffe, Minister of State at my Department.

Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 135.

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 114.