On 16 February 2018, the Government published the National Planning Framework (NPF), which, together with the National Development Plan (NDP), form ‘Project Ireland 2040’ - the Government's vision for how to develop the country over the coming decades.

The NPF will be given full legislative support within the planning system, including regular review and update, to reflect changing circumstances and make adjustments where necessary. The planning legislation underpinning the National Planning Framework will also lead to the creation of a new independent Office of the Planning Regulator, which will be responsible for monitoring implementation of the NPF. The NDP sets out the investment priorities that will underpin the successful implementation of the NPF.

Ten National strategic outcomes are detailed in the NPF, as follows:

  1. Compact growth
  2. Enhanced regional accessibility
  3. Strengthened rural economics and communities
  4. High-quality international connectivity
  5. Sustainable mobility
  6. A strong economy, supported by enterprise, innovation and skill
  7. Enhanced amenities and heritage
  8. Transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society
  9. Sustainable management of water, waste and other environmental resources
  10. Access to quality childcare, education and health services

The ultimate objectives of the NPF are to:

  • Guide the future development of Ireland, taking into account a projected 1 million increase in our population, the need to create 660,000 additional jobs to achieve full employment and a need for 550,000 more homes by 2040.
  • Of the 1 million extra people:
    • 25% is planned for Dublin, recognised as Ireland's key international and global city of scale and principal economic driver.
    • 25% across the other four cities combined (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford), enabling all four to grow their population and jobs by 50-60%, and become cities of greater scale, i.e. growing by twice as much as they did over the previous 25 years to 2016.
    • with the remaining 50% of growth to occur in key regional centres, towns, villages and rural areas, to be determined in the forthcoming regional plans – Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies.
  • Enable people to live closer to where they work, moving away from the current unsustainable trends of increased commuting.
  • Regenerate rural Ireland by promoting environmentally sustainable growth patterns.
  • Plan for and implement a better distribution of regional growth, in terms of jobs and prosperity.
  • Transform settlements of all sizes through imaginative urban regeneration and bring life/ jobs back into cities, towns and villages.
  • Co-ordinate delivery of infrastructure and services in tandem with growth, through joined-up NPF/National Investment Plan and consistent sectoral plans, which will help to manage this growth and tackle congestion and quality of life issues in Dublin and elsewhere.

The NDP which underpins the successful implementation of the NPF includes a number of innovations, including:

  • Long-term (10 year) strategic approach to investment, in support of the 10 National Strategic Objectives of the NPF.
  • Sustained increase in investment share of national income to meet infrastructural needs.
  • All Departments’ capital programmes fully funded for 5-year period.
  • Longer term key Strategic Investment Priorities funded to completion.
  • Establishment of four new funds, with a combined allocation of €4 billion, to be allocated on a competitive basis for projects which meet the criteria of the funds.
  • Establishment of a new National Regeneration and Development Agency to maximise the potential use of under-utilised land banks in cities and towns.