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Friday 21 October 2016

Independent regulator to prevent bad planning and corruption

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Minister Alan Kelly
Minister Alan Kelly

An independent regulator charged with overseeing the planning system will be put in place to prevent corruption and examine decisions made by local authorities and An Bord Pleanala.

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Environment Minister Alan Kelly has announced that the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR), among the main recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal, will be put in place to prevent bad planning policies being implemented, such as allowing homes to be built on flood plains.

The measure is among a series of reforms announced by the Government, which include a year-long consultation process on developing a new national planning framework which will decide where development should occur.

Others include statutory changes to existing planning law to reduce doubt about what types of developments are permitted in certain areas, and a requirement that all local authorities maintain records of pre-planning meetings. This is among 29 recommendations made by an independent consultant who examined planning issues in six local authorities - Carlow, Cork City, Cork, Meath, Galway and Dublin City.

The report found there were "systematic weaknesses" in some councils about how some legislation was interpreted. It found that a number of issues arose from "unclear and ambiguous development plans".

"In a number of instances there was too much flexibility and not enough certainty," it said, adding that planners had used "considerable latitude".

Irish Independent

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