New spatial development plan 'must not be a free-for-all'
on 14/02/2013 00:00:00
He said the spatial strategy had failed, had never received enough resources and that nothing had happened since it was launched with much fanfare in 2002.
The minister raised questions about the spending of funds for the strategy and said it would take a year to find a successor for the plan.
Recommendations coming out of the Mahon tribunal report previously called for the strategy to be given a statutory footing.
Director Rob Kitchen with the national institute for regional and spatial analysis, who contributed to the strategy, conceded it had failed.
"It was slightly flawed from the start in terms of how it was put together and in terms of which places, which was obviously quite contentious. And there were accusations at the time of stroke politics as to who got and who got out," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
Mr Kitchin said the strategy had missed its funding stream and had meant to be tied in with the national development fund.
He pointed out the €300m gateways initiative fund, which targeted nine main centres of activity nationwide, was one of the first things cut in 2008 when the economy began to slide.
The spatial strategy to boost growth in certain designated areas was also undermined by the decentralisation scheme, which aimed to send department workers to rural hubs outside of Dublin.
"We said we were going to concentrate resources into certain locations and boost those places up, and give them critical mass and strength and so on and decentralisation ignored that.
"It practically sent government departments to everywhere except the gateways and hubs."
A big failure of the 20-year strategy was not putting it on a statutory footing, something which any new strategy needed, he said.
The Green Party warned of a planning vacuum for development without any specific strategy.
"By abandoning the strategic planning guidelines while putting no alternative plan in place, we will be left in a planning limbo where each council can do whatever it wants," said environment spokesman Cllr Malcolm Noonan.
Party housing spokesperson Tom Kivlehan went further: "Minister Hogan says he will have new strategic planning guidelines in place next year but what are councils going to do in the meantime? Given the voting record of Fine Gael councillors, what we can expect is a planning free-for-all with every council looking for their slice of a much diminished construction pie."