An Bord Pleanala - performance review

An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby tessa » Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:38 pm

I'd be interested in hearing reviews/experiences of how An Bord Pleanala conducts itself, its procedures in terms of assessing planning applications. Sometimes when ABP makes a procedural error, human error there is no means by which this matter can be dealt with. You might suggest that a judicial review would look after that but with precedent and the cost involved - access to this is simply outside the reach of most people.

I am looking for other people's examples and here are three examples to kick off the performance review of ABP:

A planning appeal for a mobile phone mast was granted ( the local athority had refused it). An observation was made by a local resident. When she rang up to get a copy of the Inspector's Report she was told its not available online yet and so she waited and waited. Numerous phonecalls to ABP eventually one helpful official checked to see if such a report existed on the internal system and informed her that it had been deleted. In fact she was told that ABP don't have to engage an Inspector to carry out such a report nor do they have to do a site inspection. In this case no site inspection had taken place - this staggered the resident as it was within metres of a school. She was told that ABP can make their decision based on previous planning records only. She also noticed that some of the issues that she had raised were not even addressed (totally ignored as in bypassed) and yet in other decisions these were used as reasons to adjudicate on and as reasons to refuse by other inspectors. So there doesn't seem to be consistency or quality standards for inspectors. Are newly appointed inspectors being supervised (adequately upskilled or just told get on with it)?

Another case: the Inspector stated that the subject site of a planning application under appeal was not in a LAP (not within the boundary of that Local Area Plan). Yet the LAP official documentation from the Local Authority had a map that clearly identified that the site was within that LAP area - blatent error. The Board did not pick up on this either despite the fact that the Inspector had asked the Board for its direction - no direction was given. In the same case the Developer made an appeal and so did the local residents association make an appeal. Obviously ABP gave copies of the other parties appeal document to the other side for comment and/or rebuttal. Yet in the Inspector's Report only the Developer's rebuttal of the residents association appeal document was recorded and considered - another error. ABP had received it but yet it was not in the file for the Inspector to consider. Again the Board did not pick up on this error.

I think that ABP is under strain with its workload to such an extent that even simple procedural errors (that would have been picked up heretofore) are being made with massive ramifications. The danger is that the judicial review (with all its precedents) cannot cater for average residents with limited means to use it as a mechanism to ensure that ABP follows procedures. If ABP is going to hire inspectors - does anyone know of the training programme that they go through? There appears to me to be such a discrepancy in the quality of the inspector's reports - having read quite a few!

Finally, in another case, ABP is supposed to be an adjudicater, listening to both sides. Yet recently ABP issued a letter to the developer requesting him to submit drawings based on alterations that they, ABP had outlined in the same letter. ABP asked the developer to submit these drawings by a certain date. When the Res Assoc (one of the appellants) received a copy of this letter - essentially they perceived that rather than adjudicating on what was in front of ABP - that ABP were telling the developer make these considerable changes and we'll give you the nod of approval. Such were the extent of the changes, requested by ABP, it seriously affects the nature of the development and so one would have thought that the appellants would have been given a copy of these drawings for their comment. Apparently ABP don't even have to advise the parties that they have received these documents let alone give them the opportuntiy to make a comment/obsvervation. [/U][/U] A new application may or may not be on the table for a decision by ABP and yet Apellants are in the dark about it. These new changes may or may not affect other residents ( a knock-on effect) and we have no way of knowing. The decision is pending!
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby kite » Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:50 am

:o Unfortunately I have to admit to coming to the conclusion that if you want planning justice in this Country with regard to ABP you need to be in a position to fund a judicial review in many cases.
Just one example below;

http://www.courts.ie/Judgments.nsf/09859e7a3f34669680256ef3004a27de/8834e69eb8ad22a3802572330038dedb?OpenDocument
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby PVC King » Thu Mar 29, 2007 10:26 am

I think the Bord do a very good job and if you analyse the volume of cases that they handle there will always be situations where people are not happy with the outcome. There will further always be cases where its quasi - judicial nature is exposed by the judicial process upon review given the extra resources brought into play by the payment of €5000 per day to Senior Councel to spin on the basis of case law that extends well beyond the planning sphere.

In a lot of cases appelants raise specific concerns which require the submission of information in the responses from the applicants in these cases it may or may not be necessary to remit this information to the appelants depending on the nature of the material submitted.

In conclusion the ABP system isn't perfect as no system is but it is independent of government and gets the vast majority of its calls spot on with the use of conditions to deliver solutions not possible by a simple grant/refuse method. A return to the ministerial power of decision makes me think of John Prescott and that is not a difficult one to decide upon. More resources for the Bord would really help but what would help a lot more would be if many local authority planners were free of county manager interference to grant which results in large numbers of appeals against schemes that could not be considered sustainable in any shape or form.
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby Praxiteles » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:01 am

Another problem that increases the work load of ABP is the fecklesness of certain locat authorities (such as Cobh Urban District Council) who seem congenitally incapable of making certain kinds of decisions and instead pass the buck to ABP - i.e. the Cobh Cathedral case. In this specific instances, the LA relied on a temporary planner's report in which the temporary planning officer admitted that he had no specific competence to judge the merits or otherwise of E. W, Pugin and G.C. Ashlin's work as expressed in Cobh Cathedral.

This pass the buck mentality also absolves LAs from seriously running the planning law system. For example, Cobh Urban District Council did not bother to read something like 95 (or 214) objections to the wreckage of Cobh Cathedral - despite the fact that every objector had paid a fee to express an opinion. The Cobh Urban District Council, relying on the ABP hearing an appeal ex novo, fudged the matter of responsibility to the public and prosecution/and or action for incompetence. It would save the ABP a lot of work were LAs "responsibilized" and made to face the music for their own incompetence.
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby Pug » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:11 am

I agree with the last point that the local authority planners appear to use ABP as the sounding board for their decision whereas they should be making the decision themselves.

I think that things like granting permissions with 65 conditions is ridiculous

I also wonder as to why ABP bother with Inspectors if they still have an arbitrary decision to over rule them when they see fit
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby Frank Taylor » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:20 am

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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby Praxiteles » Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:43 am

Pug wrote:I agree with the last point that the local authority planners appear to use ABP as the sounding board for their decision whereas they should be making the decision themselves.

I think that things like granting permissions with 65 conditions is ridiculous

I also wonder as to why ABP bother with Inspectors if they still have an arbitrary decision to over rule them when they see fit



Well I suppose it would not be a good idea were ABP obliged to accept an Inspector's Report every time. Many of the cases coming to ABP raise complex issues sometimes raising issues in areas in which an Inspector (who is trained as an architect for example) is not competent. This scenario can lead to a flawed report that ultimately has to be put aside if anything of the planning system is to survive.
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby sprockets » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:40 am

l think the bord generally do a good job. l had been refused for planning on various sites in my area over the last 3 years and eventually put an appeal together on the last refusal and recieved planning from the bord.
l feel i would still be applying to the council if l hadnt put this appeal together. l did the appeal myself and it seemd to work out fine.
lf you need more details just mail me back.
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby JacobsSlave » Tue May 15, 2007 11:41 pm

See LA responsibilities thread

What scope do the bord have if a planning should be thrown out but cant as its the LA fault. Surely if planning and develpment act is breeched, the planning should be thrown out, regardless of wo is to blame, developer or LA. The developer can sue or whatever the LA as a result, but I think the bord needs to take accountability of the LA mistakes aswell, as these appear to be cropping up all too often.
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby MutleyHound » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:33 pm

I am faced with this prospect - what fees are involved - frighten me!!!
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby MutleyHound » Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:35 pm

I have an excellent example where Local Council Refused - An Bord Pleanala Inspector was against development, yet the bord went against both and granted ................. it's a bit dodgy
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Re: An Bord Pleanala - performance review

Postby SunnyDub » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:58 pm

What's dodgy about it? the inspector makes a recommendation and the Board decides to follow or not follow that recommendation and gives reasons, in accordance with law, for its decision.

The power of decision is vested in the Board (not the Inspector) in the same way that the power of decision in the 1st instance is vested in the City or County Manager, not the planner.

If they don't comply with the law the decision can be struck down. Simple.

Also, as a matter of law there is a presumption in favour of development and that is part of the reason why Planning Authorities must give reasons for their decisions i.e. so that applicants can have a way of overcoming a refusal of permission.
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