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Mountain high-rise flats planners escape probe

DUN LAOGHAIRE council -- which ratified the building of high rises along the Dublin Mountains -- is not being probed in the new planning inquiry.

Questions were raised today over why Dublin City Council was the only local authority in the capital included in John Gormley's planning probe.

Decisions by Fingal, South Dublin and Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown County Councils will not be investigated as part of the Environment Minister's inquiry.

In Dun Laoghaire, concern was expressed a number of years ago when permission was granted for a massive high-rise on the MJ Flood site in Sandyford.

The Dublin Mountains have been left pockmarked by high rises -- many of them now vacant because of the recession.

Some believe the permissions were a grab for rates.

But, surprisingly, Dun Laoghaire has been exempted in John Gormley's inquiry.

The hugely controversial 24-storey tower at MJ Flood's was planned for the Sandyford Industrial Estate.

However, despite the decision by Dun Laoghaire planners to give the go-ahead, An Bord Pleanala subsequently rejected the plan.

The industrial estate has changed beyond recognition in the past decade, with vast amounts of building going on.

In addition, Dun Laoghaire officials' local area plan for Kilternan, south Co Dublin, envisages a population explosion for the picturesque village.

While only 800 people live there now, the LAP envisages between 8,000 and 15,000 inhabitants for the area.

International investigators are being brought in to probe planning practices at six local authorities around the country.



controversial

The inquiry ordered by Mr Gormley will examine "major" complaints against planners who gave the go-ahead to controversial developments during the boom.

Dublin City Council, Carlow County Council, Galway County Council, Cork City Council, Cork County Council and Meath County Council are to be investigated.

While Mr Gormley would not speculate on the outcome of the probe, he does have the power to remove planning powers from local authorities.

"If there is impropriety in any way that would be a serious matter, but let's give the people an opportunity to respond in detail to these matters," Mr Gormley said.

He indicated Dublin City Council has come under scrutiny because of its approval for several tall buildings.

Mr Gormley said he receives around 8,000 planning complaints a year, mainly from An Taisce, as well as NGOs, representative organisations, planners themselves and individuals.

Department officials said the majority of these complaints in recent years have related to the six local authorities under investigation.

The authorities have four weeks to explain their processes and respond to allegations they may have deviated from official planning policies.

comurphy@herald.ie


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