City and county councils to win new licensing powers

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Government ministers have agreed to bestow city and county councils with new powers to regulate planning of new licensed premises, such as pubs, off-licenses and nightclubs.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Planning Minister Paudie Coffey have agreed a proposal to explicitly allow councils to include objectives in their Development Plans relating to “regulating, restricting or controlling the development of licensed premises”.

The making of a Development Plan is a reserved function for elected councillors.

The proposal was drafted by the Department of Justice and Equality and has been included in the Head and General Scheme of the new Planning & Development Amendment Bill published by the Department of Environment, Communities and Local Government.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “Pubs, off-licences and nightclubs are a normal feature of any town or city in Ireland.

“However, in some towns and cities we are seeing an unsustainable proliferation of off-licenses along single streets or in historic or tourist areas. This is leading to concerns about the attractiveness and commercial vitality of these areas as well as prompting fears regarding drinking in public places and public order.

“I think it is only right that local councils should have a role in regulating the proliferation of new licensed premises through the Development Plan process.”

Ms Coffey added: “I have worked closely with my colleague Minister Fitzgerald to deliver this in the heads of the planning and development bill.

“This proposed change will provide for greater alignment between the planning and licensing systems and will give communities, through their councillors, a say in local policies on provisions of new licensed premises.”

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