Saturday 22 October 2016

We must not repeat the planning mistakes of past

Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30

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Planning and development laws are key to growth and necessary for the protection of our constitutionally enshrined property rights. Applied well, these laws can help grease the wheels of our economy by enabling intelligent and sustainable development in the residential and commercial property as well as business and investment spheres.

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They can also act as a brake on the excesses of the Government and private actors, including property developers, where those parties' plans fly in the face of the public interest and the interests of individual citizens or communities.

Striking a balance between competing rights is no easy task.

And the public are no doubt wary of show-stopping 'master plans', not least after taking a bath on ghost projects such as the Glass Bottle site in Dublin.

And yet the capital is potentially losing out to investment opportunities because of a shortage of office space.

Even where plans are well intended, there can be overreach. Earlier this month, a farmer won his Supreme Court appeal against a decision to allow the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to compulsorily acquire lands his family have worked for more than a century.

The Supreme Court found against the IDA - which wanted the land for potential new development at some time in the future - and set aside the compulsory purchase order (CPO), as the agency went beyond its powers. The court also set aside the CPO due to objective bias.

The ruling endorsed the importance of private property rights while curbing overreach by a State agency.

However, the right decisions can have unfortunate consequences, as potential jobs may hinge on the approval or rejection of all or part of development plans such as the proposed Cork Science Park.

We cannot afford to repeat the planning mistakes of our past. Nor should we thwart the future with decisions that restrict growth.

Irish Independent

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