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Saturday 20 September 2014

State names consultants for planning system probe

Paul Melia Environment Correspondent

Published 11/04/2014 | 02:30

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THE Government has appointed consultants to conduct an in-depth review on how the planning system operates in six local authorities.

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MacCabe Durney Barnes Consultants is expected to report back by the end of July after complaints were made about planning rules allegedly not being followed when developments were granted planning permission.

The experts will investigate Carlow, Cork, Galway and Meath County Councils, and Dublin and Cork City Councils.

This is the third probe into the planning system since the Government came to power.

The probe, with a proposed completion date of this July, is expected to focus on decisions made as far back as 2006, and comes following complaints from An Taisce and others about planning rules being breached.

Town planners and chartered surveyors based in Dublin, MacCabe Durney Barnes has been asked to ascertain if national policy has been consistently followed and implemented at a local level, with regard to specific named cases.

It has also been asked if there has been a "poor application" of policies, if the required information was disclosed publicly and to make recommendations on improving the system.

"The consultants may consult with those persons, with their agreement, who raised the planning issues concerned in order to identify, clarify and understand the planning matters arising that may need to be addressed," the Department of the Environment added.

The first planning review was conducted by Department of the Environment officials, and published in June 2012. It set out 12 actions needed to improve the planning system. They included requirements that planning law be consolidated and upgraded and that any developments not allowed under a development plan be automatically sent to An Bord Pleanala for adjudication, and a ban on developers proposing local area plans.

BANNED

It also recommended that pre-planning meetings between developers and local authorities be recorded, and that the way the planning system operates be standardised.

The second review from independent expert Henk van der Kamp, published last March, rejected some of those recommendations, including the requirement that developers be banned from making local area plans.

The Government plans to appoint a planning regulator later this year. Housing and Planning Minister Jan O'Sullivan will this morning address the Irish Planning Institute's annual conference in Limerick.

Irish Independent

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