• 07 Jul 2022

RIAI Planning Initiatives Proposal

The delivery of quality housing that meets the objectives of Housing for All, delivers on the Towns Centres First policy and complies with the obligations of climate change is a significant challenge.

It is possible, but needs a new collaboration between local communities, the public sector and private sector stakeholders.

The RIAI is the registration and support body for Architects in Ireland. Its members have key roles in the planning, design and delivery of the majority of public and private sector housing and apartments throughout Ireland. This provides Architects with a unique insight into systemic problems, which are contributing to the crisis in the provision of housing from initial concepts, through planning to the construction and delivery phases of the process. Based on the wide experience the RIAI recommends that the following actions-initiatives to improve the delivery of residential projects:

RIAI has made recommendations on a range of areas where we believe changes will create a more efficient and effective delivery system. However, this paper focuses on initiatives to the planning system. 

Three-Dimensional Development Plans for Urban Areas developed with Structured Involvement by the Local Community.

The RIAI are proposing a model of plan preparation that entails a move away from the traditional 2 D analysis and representation of future development to a Vision Led masterplanning model that addresses issues of development quantum, place making and street hierarchies, building heights, green infrastructure and densification in a three dimensional format, both digitally and interactively.


  • To increase engagement and better understanding by communities of the agreed future development in their areas.
  • To enable local communities visualise and engage with how new housing and development can be integrated into their community in such a way as to create a win-win for everyone.
  • To foster local proponents for new housing in their community.
  • To provide opportunities for meaningful discussion on future development.
  • To enable third party engagement at the earliest stage of the planning process, ensuring participation and removing some of the costly, adversarial nature of the current system.
  • To reduce uncertainty, risk and cost at planning application stage.
  • To explore the potential of sustainable densities for urban and suburban areas.
  • To provide longer-term visions that looks beyond the Development Plan Cycle.
  • To make better use of professional expertise within the Local Authority.



  • Development plans to be produced in three-dimensional format for our cities and towns to provide clarity on a local council’s vision for future growth and to provide an enhanced tool to communicate with the community.
  • These three-dimensional plans to be displayed to local representatives and the local community in an accessible online format.
  • The adoption of the three-dimensional development plan by a Council to be equivalent to a grant of Outline Planning Permission.
  • The adopted plan to be capable of being appealed to An Bord Pleanála by residents of the relevant council area.
  • A planning application prepared in accordance with the three-dimensional development plan will be assessed in relation to height, plot ratio, materials etc. as a technical compliance process, adding more certainty for both applicants and the community. A grant of permission by a Council in respect of such an application will not be open to appeal on any of these matters.
  • It will still remain possible for an applicant to submit a planning application for a development not in accordance with the adopted three dimensional development plan, where this option will be processed through the traditional planning process.
  • Consideration could be given to progressive Local Authorities to prototype this system.
  • The Local Authorities will require sufficient professional expertise to deliver the system and will require expertise in areas such as embodied carbon, rights-to-solar-energy and rights-to-light.
  • To effectively deliver on this proposed system, the Local Authorities will need to coordinate resources to ensure adequate infrastructure is just in time, to allow the timely delivery of housing and development.
  • Similar planning systems exist in other European countries including Germany, Finland and Portugal where the system provides better clarity to public representatives and local residents on the form of future development.


Planning Compliance:

  • This system would support Local Authorities to meet the mandatory time limit of 8 weeks for processing of confirmation of compliance with planning permission