Skip to content


Developing Policy Guidelines and Best Practice Manual for Planning Authorities in the Republic of Ireland

Unit(s) of assessment: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment


Uncoordinated development leads to inefficiency and oversupply

The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 introduced important new legal requirements for planning authorities. These ensure that both existing and future local area plans comply with new core strategies incorporated into city and county development plans.

Local area plans are intended to provide more detailed planning policies for areas that are expected to experience significant development and change, through proper public participation and democratic oversight. Local area plans must focus on delivering quality outcomes for local communities, informed by effective participation by those communities in preparing the local plan and the wider planning policy context.

The Planning and Development Act 2000 led to a rapid increase in the number of local area plans. This made it more difficult to coordinate development with the provision of necessary public infrastructure and the implementation of strategic planning policies such as the National Spatial Strategy and Regional Planning Guidelines. There have been several instances where coordination between the master plans for different local areas was overlooked. This resulted in the duplication of services and commercial outlets, and the oversupply of residential provision.

Addressing the Challenge

A best practice manual for local planners

In collaboration with the Irish government’s Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) and Loci Consultants, Professor Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem led a team of scholars and researchers to review and edit Local Area Plans: Guidelines for Planning Authorities. They also authored the best practice manual that gives exemplar procedures, processes and case studies that local planners can follow in their planning exercises.

This project aimed to study the evolution and development of spatial planning and urban design in Ireland's urban landscape. It offered guidance and principles for preparing local area plans for Irish cities. The project analysed the current urban conditions, problems and challenges that emerged from disorganised planning processes, and which resulted in the overloading of infrastructure and the oversupply of housing and commercial services in different local authorities.

Making a Difference

Guiding Irish planning policy to reduce expensive inefficiencies

The work developed two official governmental policy documents. The first, Local Area Plans: Guidelines for Planning Authorities, was based on several years of work under government supervision. The second, Local Area Plans: Best Practice Manual, offered exemplar cases and projects from across the globe. The principles drafted in those volumes must now be followed during the design, preparation and implementation of local area plans in Ireland.


Professor Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem worked in partnership with Queens University Belfast; Loci Consultants; and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG), Republic of Ireland. The project ran from May 2011 to June 2012, and was worth €79,000.