The planning watchdog has called on South Dublin County Council to withdraw its proposal to require developers of new building projects in Tallaght to use local construction workers.
The Office of the Planning Regulator has raised doubts about whether it is legally possible for the council to introduce such a clause under planning legislation.
It follows an assessment by the OPR of proposed material amendments by South Dublin County Council to the draft Tallaght Town Centre Local Area Plan 2020-2026. The council has proposed that it should include a “local employment clause” for construction projects in Tallaght. The local authority has recommended the measure because the unemployment rate in some areas of Tallaght is 33% (Central Statistics Office figures).
The council claims construction companies should employ local labourers and apprentices for any projects in the area, through partnership with the council, Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education Training Board, and other stakeholders.
While the OPR said there was merit in the spirit of the proposal, it was essential that any policies or objectives in the draft local area plan had a statutory basis.
“There is no legislative basis under the [Planning and Development] Act for the attachment of such a policy or objective,” the regulator said.
The OPR said the wording of the draft amendment, which it claimed was “aspirational rather than directive,” was likely to result in confusion as to its actual requirements.
The regulator said it could also lead to inconsistencies in how it was applied between different grants of planning permission.
As a consequence, it believed the proposal was contrary to accepted best practice, insofar as planning authorities should not include aspirational objectives on matters over which they had no powers.
The regulator has issued a recommendation to the council to omit the proposal from the draft area plan for Tallaght.