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City chief furious at heritage group over 'slurs' to planners

DUBLIN'S city manager has lashed the country's heritage trust, accusing it of making serious slurs against his staff and grossly misrepresenting the facts about planning in the capital.

John Tierney has accused An Taisce of writing letters filled with "substantial inaccuracies, misrepresentations and unsubstantiated allegations" to the Environment Minister.

The city boss has made the statements in response to the setting up of a planning review by Green Minister John Gormley, who has asked city planners to go back over decisions made between 2005 and 2009.

Mr Gormley's review was prompted by complaints from An Taisce about the adjudication of certain planning cases.

An Taisce has raised concerns about 23 planning applications. It told the minister that the city council had shown disregard for its own development plan; that it contravened ministerial guidelines and that it acted improperly by encouraging landowners to submit proposals that were in breach of the plan.



Conflicting

However, Mr Tierney has strongly refuted all the allegations, insisting they are "a slur against the integrity and professionalism of public servants engaged in the difficult task of balancing competing and often conflicting interests in making decisions while ensuring that the requirements of the planning legislation are met". He adds that he considers "these slurs to be a very serious matter" and has called on the heritage body to withdraw them.

"As a prescribed body they have a responsibility to ensure that their observations are accurate and correct," he said.

The 23 cases cited by An Taisce were all subject to an appeal to An Bord Pleanala and in 15 occasions the council's decision was overturned.

However, the council says that this does not give a fair reflection of the over 18,000 planning applications it processed in the period covered.

The manager notes that 14pc of those applications were appealed to An Bord Pleanala and in 75pc of cases the bord upheld the council's decision.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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