Joint Ministerial Statement
Emerging Development Plans and Prematurity
20. Where a development plan is under preparation or review and is being drawn up within the context of the framework set out within the RDS, there are circumstances where it would be appropriate to refuse planning permission on the grounds of prematurity. For example such a course of action would be appropriate where the Department can demonstrate that development proposals, either individually or cumulatively:
- would prejudice the ability of the emerging new or replacement development plan to achieve or retain general conformity with the RDS; or
- would prejudice the outcome of the plan process by predetermining decisions that ought properly to be taken following full consideration of the relevant issues in the context of a public inquiry. These include decisions about the nature, scale, location or phasing of new development and decisions which would:
- result in an adverse impact on an environmental asset which the emerging plan is seeking to protect; or
- undermine the rationale behind a proposed Green Belt or Countryside Policy Area designation which is proposed in the emerging plan.
21. Planning applications will continue to be considered in the light of both current policies and policies in emerging development plans that are going through the statutory procedures. However, in circumstances where development would accord with the provisions of an extant development plan but the development, either individually or cumulatively, would prejudice the ability of an emerging new or replacement development plan to achieve or retain general conformity with the RDS, or would prejudice the outcome of the plan process as outlined at paragraph 20(b), then greater weight needs to be given to the provisions of the emerging development plan than to the extant plan. In all other circumstances the weight to be attached to policies in emerging plans will depend upon the stage of plan preparation or review, increasing as successive stages are reached.
22. Where a plan is at the draft plan stage but no objections have been lodged to relevant proposals then considerable weight should be attached to those proposals because of the strong possibility that they will be adopted and replace those in the existing plan. In circumstances where there have been objections to relevant policies, lesser weight may be attached except for those situations outlined in paragraphs 20 -21 above. Much will also depend on the nature of those objections and whether there are representations in support of particular policies.
23. Other than in the circumstances described above, refusal of planning permission on grounds of prematurity will not usually be justified. However, each case will need to be considered on its own merits.
24. Where planning permission is refused on grounds of prematurity, the Department of the Environment will give clear reasons as to how the grant of permission for the development concerned would prejudice the ability of the emerging new or replacement development plan to achieve or retain general conformity with the RDS or would prejudice the outcome of the development plan process