Do Our Planning Submissions Make A Difference?

In this article, Irish Cycling Campaign’s Infrastructure Coordinator, Colm Ryder, considers if ICC’s planning submissions are making a difference – and, if yes, in what way?

The Irish Cycling Campaign (formerly has been making submissions to Planning Authorities and Government Bodies, on public consultations, for at least the past 15 years. This work is part of our broader efforts to improve conditions for active travel by engaging constructively through the planning system. 

We ask here: do these submissions help to make a difference in how designers and planners view active travel provision? Our view is that they can certainly help to make alterations to proposed projects, as we also know from discussions and feedback with different local Councils, and from the issued “Part 8” Final Reports (i.e. Part 8 of the of Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended)). But also we know that certain Local Authorities do sometimes ignore our comments, particularly if they are critical of the relevant Local Authority and its policies.

So, we continue to make submissions on schemes and policies right across the country – when, that is, we actually get to know if consultations are happening!  Unfortunately this has not always been the case, as public consultations are difficult to track, and up to now there has been no standard website or tracker mechanism, which keeps on top of consultations published. There are also the cases where Local Authorities post consultations online, but do not encourage submissions (e.g. by not providing an email address to facilitate this), with the result that some schemes can have very few, or even zero, submissions. This is an unhealthy indication of the democracy of our planning system.

But, recently, the Local Government Management Agency has been trialling a national planning system, where many Local Authorities post their consultations and general planning information. The consultations at present are confined to Part 8 consultations, but we would hope that all public consultation processes, including Section 38 processes, will soon come under the umbrella of this overarching website. This will make it easier for Joe/Mary Citizen to access and find out what is happening both nationwide and in their own area. In the case of the Irish Cycling Campaign, we are of course interested in any proposed active travel schemes countrywide, and not just where our local groups are active!

In the first six months of 2024 alone, we have centrally made over 40 submissions to 18 Local Authorities and to four government agencies/departments. This does not include the many submissions made locally, directly from our network of local groups, on local schemes of interest. The vast majority of the schemes we have submitted on are specific proposed active travel improvement schemes in our towns and cities. But an increasing number of rural Local Authorities are working to develop greenways, to encourage mainly local leisure use, but also to attract tourism. Some of these proposed greenways will in the long term link into the developing National Cycle Network (NCN).

We, in the Irish Cycling Campaign will continue to advocate for cyclists and pedestrians, in order to make our streets safer and more liveable. It is important that we continue to make our voice heard through multiple channels, including through these formal planning consultation processes. Through these channels we can help to ensure that planning bodies and local authorities develop acceptable policies, and implement high quality active travel schemes in line with the the Cycle Design Manual, Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, and Rural Cycleway Design documents. 

If you have any interest in supporting this work, or in making your own planning consultation submissions, why not contact us at [email protected]?

You can also support our vital work by making a donation, which will help to cover the administrative expenses of making submissions. Visit to contribute today.

Note – the featured image above was taken in June 2024 at Utrecht’s multi-story cycle parking facility by Irish Cycling Campaign’s reps en route to the Velo-city conference in Ghent.

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