Sweeping changes to the way An Bord Pleanála conducts its business have been recommended by the Office of the Planning Regulator, including permanently ending the practice where two board members can constitute a quorum.

The regulator has also recommended that a quorum of five persons should be mandatory for certain categories of planning decisions.

Eleven recommendations are contained in the first of two reports, which was initiated following alleged conflicts of interest at An Bord Pleanála.

An initial report into these allegations was completed by senior counsel, Remy Farrell, and was referred by Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien to the Director of Public Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána and the Standard in Public Office Commission.

Among the other recommendations from the regulator is what is described as "an urgent need" that board vacancies are filled so as to deliver An Bord Pleanála's statutory purpose.

It finds that a renewed code of conduct is "urgently required", along with a new governance, ethics and compliance unit as well as an ethics officer.

It also says formal procedures are required to identify and monitor conflicts of interest matters in relation to decision-making.

When it comes to board meetings, the regulator finds that the previous practice of relying on individual board members to present planning cases must cease in favour of presentations being made by the inspector that prepared the planning report.

An Bord Pleanála has welcomed the Regulators report, in particular "the general outcome and review finding which contains no specific criticisms of the Board's practices."

In a statement, An Bord Pleanála categorises the report as being "aimed at further strengthening the robustness and documentation of its systems and procedures to restore and enhance the Board’s reputation and standing within the planning system."