Minister O’Sullivan’s Planning review - much more to be done before we get a planning system that we can trust– An Taisce

12th June 2012
Press Release

After three years the Department of Department of Environment Community and Local Government has published a report on complaints made in relation to planning decisions in seven local authority areas. We note the report calls for the appointment of an independent planning expert to examine these issues and report with recommendations for action. The 12 recommendations made are welcome but need urgent and detailed implementation in statutory provision.

However this is still far short from the appointment of an Independent Planning Regulator as called for by the Mahon Tribunal and An Taisce trusts that this will be part of the Government response to the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal which Minister Hogan will publish in the coming weeks in the Government’s commitment to “developing a 21st century planning system that provides a democratic, transparent and coherent framework for creating thriving sustainable communities”.

The report reveals that the investigation process "was not intended therefore as an investigation of specific alleged irregularity or impropriety on the part of particular planning authorities" and that its aim was to "identify measures to ensure consistency of approach in the implementation of planning legislation".

We note the report calls for Councils to review the results of appeals to An Bord Pleanála so that lessons may be learnt, we trust that this will stop Councils from continuing to repeat those mistakes.

· Dublin City Council is still granting permissions breaching the height limits set in previous An Bord Pleanála decisions. e.g. A recent case has been appealed by An Taisce in Charlemont St. Also the Council endorsed the Mater Hospital National Children's Hospital plan, which was found by An Bord Pleanála to be in breach of the Dublin City Development Plan.

· Galway County Council is continuing to grant permission for repeat applications in locations where previous proposals have been refused by An Bord Pleanála. These include some of the most ecologically and landscape sensitive locations in the country.

The 12 recommendations made are welcome but need urgent and detailed implementation in statutory provision. Drawing up improved "guidelines" is not enough. Reform of the planning system needs legislation and independent regulation to address the main abuses:

  1. Re zonings and Local Area Plans such as in Co Meath which were promoted by the landowners.
  2. The large scale use of Material Contraventions to undermine Development Plan provisions.
  3. The scale of disregard by local authorities of An Bord Pleanála decisions in repeat applications, which applies nationally.
  4. The scale of lobbing support for individual applications and undocumented influence on the decision making process.
  5. The lack of transparency in planning decision making through undocumented communication between applicants and Councils.
  6. Inadequate enforcement of unauthorised and non compliant development prevailing nationally.

ENDS

For further information, please call:

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce Communications, 087 2411995

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