Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, has announced that the Government intends to appoint Mr. Niall Cussen as Ireland’s first Planning Regulator, heading up the new Office of the Planning Regulator. Mr. Cussen’s appointment was recommended following an open recruitment process conducted by the Public Appointments Service.
Mr. Cussen is currently the Chief Planner at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and has been centrally involved in the development of a range of national planning policies, including the National Planning Framework published earlier this year as part of Project Ireland 2040. He has also previously worked in An Bord Pleanála and in Dublin City Council and Meath, Clare and Roscommon County Councils. He is an Economics and Geography graduate of Maynooth University and has also been awarded a Diploma in Environmental Engineering from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters of Regional and Urban Planning from UCD.
Commenting on the appointment, Minister Murphy said: “I am delighted, as we establish the new Office of the Planning Regulator, that the Government is in a position to have someone of Mr. Cussen’s experience and expertise to lead the Office in its crucial early, formative years. The appointment of a Planning Regulator is a vital step in ensuring a sound and sustainable approach to planning in Ireland in the years ahead. It comes at a significant time, when the implementation of the National Planning Framework is at a critical juncture, with regional assemblies and local authorities all due to make plans arising out of the framework over the coming year. Mr. Cussen is exceptionally well placed to take on the Planning Regulator role and I wish him every success in the months and years ahead.”
The appointment of an independent Planning Regulator with oversight of the planning system in Ireland was one of the key recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal and the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator was provided for under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018.
The Office of the Planning Regulator will be responsible for assessment of all local authority and regional assembly forward planning, including zoning decisions. The Regulator will also ensure that planning authorities are operating with the highest standards of integrity and best practice, giving the public confidence that important planning decisions are taken in line with national policy. The Regulator will have the power to review the organisation, systems and procedures used by any planning authority or An Bord Pleanála. The Regulator will also have the power to advise the Minister on whether a plan made by a local authority conflicts with national planning policy and to recommend that the Minister make directions where any plan is not in compliance with national policy. Additionally, the OPR will drive national research, education and public information programmes to highlight the role and benefit of planning.