A new training strategy for local authority planning staff was published today, January 16th. The strategy has been developed collaboratively by the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR), the County and City Management Association (CCMA), the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Planning functions have become complex in recent years, recognising the critical role that planning ahead plays in meeting significant societal, environmental and economic needs. Accordingly, the Strategy will deliver structured national level training for approximately 1,600 staff of the 31 local authorities who work in planning departments, alongside existing OPR training for elected members. This will ensure that staff are equipped to deliver an effective planning service into the future.
The strategy envisages a number of levels of training including:
- Immediate / Foundation training: Covering fast-changing legislation on core planning functions including preparing plans, handling planning applications and enforcement;
- Intermediate training: Covering compliance with EU Legislation and Directives and the role of planning functions in underpinning sustainable development; and
- Leadership training: To strengthen senior leadership in various planning functions.
The strategy was developed with local authority staff and elected member engagement which identified a strong need for training given evolving planning legislation and policy and the significant workload of local authorities. Recognising this, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has also committed €400,000 in Budget 2023 to assist in implementing the strategy.
Publishing the Strategy, the Planning Regulator, Niall Cussen said:
“The planning system underpins delivery of many interrelated economic, environmental and societal objectives; including housing, infrastructure development and climate action. A new Planning Act is coming in 2023. Staff working in planning authorities, as well as their elected members need to be aware of and understand the implications of new planning policy and legislation.”
Chairperson of the Housing Building and Land Use Committee of the County and City Management Association Kevin Kelly said:
“Local authorities implement complex planning legislation within demanding timeframes and the public expects and deserves a high degree of expertise in implementing our planning process, which delivery of this strategy will assure”.
Together, the local authority sector with the OPR and the Department of Housing Local Government and Heritage will next jointly establish a Planning Services Training Group to drive the implementation of the strategy, which is available here.