What to do about the SYSTEM?

What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:52 am

Several threads of late have degenerated into a disjointed argument over the planning procees – or lack thereof – in this country. Mea Culpa for some of this so I thought I would put it all down as clearly and concisely as possible and try to evoke a rational discussion on the vagaries of the system

I have many issues with the general system (I don’t want to even go near the oral hearing minefield) and I have suggested before that the whole process can be reduced to c. 22 weeks. I’m happy to revisit that but, in the spirit of optimism and fair play I’ll assume that we’re generally stuck with what we have and suggest ways that the current process might be brought to bear closer examination

I would say, however, that approved pre-validation companies, paid out of the planning fee would be a step forward and allow the review process to start ticking the minute an application is lodged

Anyway,

The “Democratic” Process

Many people think that it is great that the right to object and/ or appeal is open to all. I think, however, that there should be some restriction put to this. Someone famously objected from New York once for goodness sake. Objectors should only be allowed from within the same administrative region as the application (wait now – bear me out).

Don’t get me wrong – I know the process works both ways. I have heard that it is allegedly not beyond a developer to get a friend to object / appeal so that other, legitimate, objectors may decide not to bother as someone else has already done so.

I’ve also heard that there is perhaps the existence of persons who don’t give a hoot but just fancy a few quid. Again, whilst the system cannot legislate against this, it encourages it by inviting all and sundry to the party. What to do? Perhaps those who withdraw an objection should have to give reason why?, have their finances investigated?! (tempting; but hardly likely). Perhaps 10 people from the same street with identical verbatim objection letters should be treated as one en-masse objection.

In addition the number of ways and routes open to appeal for people who have not observed is staggering. We need a common playing field here and the simplest way to do that is – observe and appeal or otherwise it’s too late

I think the common denominator in all of these is the subterfuge or sneaky nature of the process. The ringthedoorbellandrunaway-ness of it. At the root of it all is consultation, or lack of it. So much could be gained by a meeting between objectors, LA and the design team involved with the application.

Consultation vs closed shop

The planning process actively encourages discussion with the LA prior to lodging. Those meetings can be minuted and be kept on public record. The planning application form allows space for these meetings to be recorded

When the application is lodged the discussion process stops dead, unless Further Information is requested when you can normally meet the planner to discuss. One of the things that fuels my irritation with bodies such as AT is the untouchable pedestal on which they sit. That there is no mechanism to point out that large tracts of their current objection are lifted verbatim from another one. Just as it is not possible to ask the person in No 6 why their letter is verbatim to that of the persons in Nos 7,8, & 9

What if the process allowed for a post 5 week meeting between all parties to discuss their concerns. It could be stipulated in the legal process that all parties, when lodging an application, observation or objection must be available for a meeting in week 6 of the application process or week 5 of the appeal process otherwise their objection will be considered void. Ok that’s harsh but if something is to work it has to have its basis on solid ground. This meeting would allow the LA to more clearly understand the views of all parties and also to judge just how heartfelt they really are. It will allow the design team to try to allay some of the concerns. It would allow the LA to more fully consider the content of any FI request and to make the FI request beneficial. It would be minuted and made available for any future appeal to ABP for all sides

As part of this meeting the LA should be able to clearly state their position. The LA has 8 weeks to decide on an application but I suspect, like as not, that they do nothing until the 5 week period is up. If there is a raft of objections I also suspect that the enthusiasm for the job ahead wanes and the LA will move into “leave it to ABP mode” A consultation at 6 weeks would ensure that the LA comes to the table having carried out its duties also. It should also be in a position to outline any and all FI requests it is currently considering

But the kings and queens of the pedestal are ABP. That so much consultation can inform the pre-planning process and then the door shut on appeal is total anathema to me. If ever there was a point where parties need to consult it is on appeal. The exact same meeting / process should occur in the appeal process and the LA should be present to explain all situations where ABP consider a grant / refusal to have been contrary to the development plan

So if we must have 4 or 5 week periods for observation and appeal then let’s make them worthwhile, useful. If not, it really shouldn’t take that long to write a letter and I believe that the time given to appeal to ABP could and should be cropped to 3 weeks

The removal of appeals:

This is a tricky one and probably has no chance due to a lack of legal footing but what if the mutual process above could be allowed to filter out appeals. The “it’s too big, too ugly” appeal, for example, could in theory be overwritten by the LA’s decision. The LA, for example, should be our arbiters on what is considered overdevelopment, excessive massing etc. Could it also be allowed to decide what is a legitimate appeal? Probably not - ABP should, however, be able to make that decision in the first week of a review. (Haven’t really thought this one out)

The Definition of Time

The planning process imposes strict deadlines upon all those involved in the planning process – with the notable exception of those who decide upon it! For example:

Of particular irritation is the 7 week and 6 day “Further Information request” – 6 or 7 lightweight requests – usually traffic related – sent out when the planner obviously hasn’t finished their report before the 8 week deadline. And while we’re at it, planning history and an almost verbatim regurgitation of the appeals, lead to planning reports of over 100 pages when the only content of note is usually in the last 10-15 pages. It’s not necessary – we assume you’ve read everything!

Or the massive FI request which requires a re-advertisement and the whole process beginning again – monumentally annoying if you didn’t get any objections the first time but you do the second. I can understand these if an applicant has clearly not undertaken the advice given at pre-planning stage but not if the opposite applies.

The timescale for dealing with the above and the criteria for re-advertising are both vague and need to be firmed up upon. Why not suggest, for example, that the LA gets 2 weeks to review Further Information plus whatever time it had left out of the 8 weeks when it issued the FI request?

But the mother of all prevaricators is ABP (theme emerging?) As part of a rant on another thread I proved that, the average time to decide the appeals decided in the first week of February 2009 was 28 weeks – 10 weeks – or 2.5 months – longer than their mandate

Now this is not a difficult scenario – you have a timescale and you must adjudicate within it otherwise sanctions must be met. Let us not forget that a large percentage of schemes that end up in ABP have paid the maximum planning fee of €38,000. That is a not unsubstantial figure and it might just nudge ABP along a bit if this had to be refunded on a sliding scale from week 19 onward up to full refund at 30 weeks and upwards as a fine from thereon. I would be loath to imply such sanctions on the LA as all it would do is generate FI requests in week 7. I’ve used an example before where can you imagine if I told a client that I'd lodge an application on 1st September and then on 1st October said "nope, another 4 weeks", then on 1st October "nearly there now"? I wouldn't get past 10th September before "see ya later and I'll take my fee back please

Another classic piece of irony from ABP is when, after 30 odd weeks you receive a hefty additional information request that “must” be lodged with 4 weeks or your application is invalid!

Oh, and another thing – I think AT only pay half of what a normal punter does for an appeal – they should be made to pay the same as everyone else or vice versa

Decision Making and the be all and end all

I suppose the greatest irritation for me – and presumably the poor sod in question – is when the Manager or the Board overturn the inspector (unless it is to grant of course!!), moreso because it happens so often

I find Grants with onerous conditions annoying but not nearly as annoying as a refusal with little or no explanation, especially if it overrules an inspector’s recommendation to Grant. ABP especially so as it requires a quorum of 3 board members to decide upon a decision but it might not be the same board members present from week to week. In fact, if anyone can accurately explain the machinations of an ABP board meeting I would be grateful

I think this is the most depressing part of the whole process – it is like a roman emperor raising or lowering the thumb. You are left with nothing after a refusal. To call the final ABP decision a Direction is the biggest misnomer of all time. If there were direction then at least we could go off to the pub with some heart

LAs and ABP should be made to itemise refusals just as they do conditions on a grant. ABP could stipulate in their Direction an acceptable quantum of development / height profile that would have been acceptable. We are paying for a process and a system and it is not too much to ask that, at the very least, we are left with a way forward at the end - a means to inform a new application, if we have the heart (or the staff) left. An ABP direction on acceptable development could, then, overwrite any objections with regard to overdevelopment / height etc on a new application and the LA's decision on a second application would be final should all ABP stipulations be met. It is madness that the whole process can simply repeat itself

As this is getting to be a post so long that even Garethace might be getting bored I guess I’ll stand back and dodge the bullets
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby corkblow-in » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:31 pm

Very comprehensive post wearnicehats.....going to have to go away and consider it - a lot of good points there.

Just to throw one quick suggestion into the pot, one which I know some LA's had considered but not introduced. Its crazy that planning applications from Mrs Murphy who wants to convert her attic and Mr Jones who wants to convert his garage take 8 weeks to decide, same as if they had lodged applications for 1000 residential units, plus commercial, on an exposed site next to an SAC. Madness!

Surely these 'bed-blockers' could be weeded out of the system, either by making them exempt, or appointing one person to deal with all aspects of the application. Is it really necessary for these to get planning, water services, engineering reports etc when one competent engineer could deal with all aspects? Get these out of the way and allow the planners to deal with the stuff that will have an impact on the built environment. Then we can look at the system we've left and rationalise that.

I won't get started on some objectors right now......I finish work at 5.30....
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby henno » Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:43 pm

i expect, by your obvious omission of any reference to the political system, that its an area you do not what to discuss in this particular topic??

personally i see that at the main bugbear for what is a reasonably good system.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:25 pm

henno wrote:i expect, by your obvious omission of any reference to the political system, that its an area you do not what to discuss in this particular topic??

personally i see that at the main bugbear for what is a reasonably good system.


If I've omitted something the idea is to fill the gaps.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby missarchi » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:05 am

Its seems the country and systems where built on double standards and loose word systems...
This is my main bugbear... Its a two horse race and one horse kicked the other and its bleeding...
I agree about providing detailed reasons for ABP refusal
We have the biggest project in the history of the state and it is truely meaningful architecture space of the highest calibre...

I have no problem with speedy Gonzales for small projects that don't break rules...
But that will lead to less work for architects...
But what is the cost of uncertainty?
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby saintleger » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:31 pm

A couple of points of clarification:

I’ve also heard that there is perhaps the existence of persons who don’t give a hoot but just fancy a few quid. Again, whilst the system cannot legislate against this, it encourages it by inviting all and sundry to the party.

Under section 138 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the Board is entitled to dismiss appeals "made with the sole intention of delaying the development or the intention of securing the payment of money, gifts, consideration or other inducement by any person".

Perhaps 10 people from the same street with identical verbatim objection letters should be treated as one en-masse objection.

They usually are, in planner's reports and inspector's reports. Certainly, 10 identical objections adds to the expense incurred by the Local Authority in photocopying and post, and the salary paid to the people who do this, but as the time scales on all ten objections run concurrently, can they be blamed for causing significantly more delays than 1 objection would?

In addition the number of ways and routes open to appeal for people who have not observed is staggering.

There are three circumstances in which an appeal can be made without having made a submission. These are on the Board website.

Let us not forget that a large percentage of schemes that end up in ABP have paid the maximum planning fee of €38,000. That is a not unsubstantial figure and it might just nudge ABP along a bit if this had to be refunded on a sliding scale from week 19 onward up to full refund at 30 weeks and upwards as a fine from thereon.

If you look at page 50 of the Board's annual report for 2008 (most recent available) you'll see that the Board is largely financed by central government, not planning fees. You're suggesting putting your hand into the taxpayers' pocket to hand money back to would-be developers, whose €38k fee realistically doesn't cover the costs incurred by local authorities and the board in making a decision.

Is it trollish to suggest that the planning system is supposed to make you unhappy - it's in its nature, attempting to arbitrate on land use and development rights?
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:26 pm

saintleger wrote:A couple of points of clarification:

I’ve also heard that there is perhaps the existence of persons who don’t give a hoot but just fancy a few quid. Again, whilst the system cannot legislate against this, it encourages it by inviting all and sundry to the party.

Under section 138 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the Board is entitled to dismiss appeals "made with the sole intention of delaying the development or the intention of securing the payment of money, gifts, consideration or other inducement by any person".

Perhaps 10 people from the same street with identical verbatim objection letters should be treated as one en-masse objection.

They usually are, in planner's reports and inspector's reports. Certainly, 10 identical objections adds to the expense incurred by the Local Authority in photocopying and post, and the salary paid to the people who do this, but as the time scales on all ten objections run concurrently, can they be blamed for causing significantly more delays than 1 objection would?

In addition the number of ways and routes open to appeal for people who have not observed is staggering.

There are three circumstances in which an appeal can be made without having made a submission. These are on the Board website.

Let us not forget that a large percentage of schemes that end up in ABP have paid the maximum planning fee of €38,000. That is a not unsubstantial figure and it might just nudge ABP along a bit if this had to be refunded on a sliding scale from week 19 onward up to full refund at 30 weeks and upwards as a fine from thereon.

If you look at page 50 of the Board's annual report for 2008 (most recent available) you'll see that the Board is largely financed by central government, not planning fees. You're suggesting putting your hand into the taxpayers' pocket to hand money back to would-be developers, whose €38k fee realistically doesn't cover the costs incurred by local authorities and the board in making a decision.

Is it trollish to suggest that the planning system is supposed to make you unhappy - it's in its nature, attempting to arbitrate on land use and development rights?


Ok, not much of a proactive nature there but anyway:

Regardless of what ABP is empowered to do are you aware of an occassion when the Board dismissed an appeal because of a financial incentive? You'll note that my point on en-masse objections was put under the same financial innuendo. It is much easier to "approach" individuals than it is a group. Forcing such verbatim objections into a group scenario makes the alleged practice of nobbling more difficult

There are three methods of appeal, yes, but I meant more the potential quantity of persons that those 3 methods could encapsulate, especially on a large development

I don't really care who has to pay - there needs to be a system of redress in place that forces ABP to stick to its mandate. I don't think you can bemoan the €38k not covering costs - take a look at the capital contributions payable on any medium to large scheme and you'll see that the pound of flesh is taken many times over

Not trollish, just a little reactive - it is a public service and, as such, should be user friendly
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby cajual » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:58 pm

Planning issues (as in policy decisions relating to densities, zoning, usage, height) should be divorced from design issues- form, expression, materials etc.

There should be an independent design review as part of the planning process, a la CABE in the UK or the Welstandcommissie in the Netherlands (slightly different models but similar principle).
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby saintleger » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:11 pm

Hi wearnicehats,
No, I'm not aware of any instances in which the Board has dismissed a case on those grounds - there are over a hundred spurious cases dismissed listed on the board's website, but it's unclear if any were for those reasons.

In my experience, on an occasion when a 3rd party did spuriously appeal a client's development, and the appeal should have been dismissed under section 138 (we made a clear case in our response) the appeal went through the usual channels and was ruled in our favour. I wanted to take it to judicial review, but the client wasn't having any of it, for some reason. :)
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby gunter » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:40 pm

No planning system is ever going to be perfect, we have to accept that. Any process that involves judgement can be misjudged.

The problem, as I see it, is that we don't have a shared vision of what it is that we're trying to plan, so how can we judge whether individual proposals contribute positively or negatively to the bigger picture . . . . . that we don't have?

Some people want an inhabited landscape of blissful bungalows, others want a rural landscape of pristine sparseness. Some people want development at all cost, others want compact cities that retain their historic coherence, and others still want sub-urban and semi-detached.

Instead of taking on this challenge and defining what is right, we just adopt watered-down Development Plans that offer succour to every shade of opinion and every shade of opinion responds by chucking in all manner of planning applications.

We've somehow adopted a planning system where it's easier to pile a load of platitudes into a County or City Development Plan than it is to devise a vision of the place in five/ten years time, sell that vision to the public and then use that vision to lead development towards an agreed goal, which is what 'planning' should be all about.

We think that we have a decent planning system because it's two-stage and there are checks and balances, bells and whistles. Whatever the Local Authority get wrong, An Bord Pleanála can put right, but it's a system designed, at best, to stop mistakes, not a system designed to lead and guide development.

The present system might be 'belt and braces', but it's belt and braces holding up a fig leaf.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby Cliff Barnes » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:21 pm

Sure was'nt the place grand before 1963 ?
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby missarchi » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:12 am

then popeye came along
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby saintleger » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:18 am

What Gunter said: +1.

The hard decisions aren't being made at policy stage or development plan stage, just moved downstream to development control, where all hell breaks loose. Suggesting that third party rights should be curtailed and stricter time limits imposed on the board to allow us all to get more grants and faster is tempting, but you can't look at dev control in isolation.

If you pick any city in North America, you'll find that their zoning maps have designations for various forms and heights of buildings, not just land uses. Seattle has areas where you can only build single family homes under 5 metres high, other areas with a 7.2 or 9.6 metre limit, other areas for duplexes, others for mid rise, high rise, etc, etc.

Seattle's city wide zoning map
http://www.seattle.gov/dclu/Research/gis/webplots/smallzonemap.pdf

Their zoning ordinances are open to criticism from a social justice point of view, there's a considerable literature on the exclusionary nature of single family zoning, so their planning system is not necessarily better than ours. Seattle is generally considered to be a successful city, but Detroit and Baltimore have the same zoning principles, and they're bereft. But it does mean that you avoid the system of developers proposing 57 storey buildings downtown (or 4 storey buildings in housing estates) and being met with shock and horror by the neighbours or conservationists.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby missarchi » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:58 am

the only way is up...
Don't forget the emergency exit sign... (bolt it on to michealanlooo)
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:18 pm

missarchi wrote:the only way is up...
Don't forget the emergency exit sign... (bolt it on to michealanlooo)


I've said it time and time again - if you have nothing other than gobbledegook to contribute then fuck off and annoy some other thread - the "sensitive issue" thread could do with you
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:22 pm

saintleger wrote: Suggesting that third party rights should be curtailed and stricter time limits imposed on the board to allow us all to get more grants and faster is tempting, but you can't look at dev control in isolation.

.


I don't think I was suggesting curtailing third party rights in any way and, rather than curtailing timescales, I would prefer - as a start - to see mandated timescales adhered to
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby saintleger » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:48 pm

I may have misinterpreted you, but it appeared you were suggesting, among other things, that only people from the same administrative region should be allowed object, that the existing provisions for certain third parties to make an appeal without having made an objection should be done away with, and that objectors who are unable or unwilling to attend a meeting have their submissions declared null and void. But maybe you meant something else?

I have found the board is speeding up now the boom is over - it will be interesting to compare the time taken for decisions made in the first week of February 2010 (this list should be out shortly) with your findings for the first week of Feb 2009, to see if there is empirical evidence of this impression. Given that the system was so swamped and under resourced in recent years, I have felt that imposing a statutory deadline (as opposed to a statutory objective) on the Board would lead to rushed ill-considered decisions. It will be interesting to see if they respond in a timely fashion now.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:16 pm

saintleger wrote:I may have misinterpreted you, but it appeared you were suggesting, among other things, that only people from the same administrative reason should be allowed object, that the existing provisions for certain third parties to make an appeal without having made an objection should be done away with, and that objectors who are unable or unwilling to attend a meeting have their submissions declared null and void. But maybe you meant something else?

I have found the board is speeding up now the boom is over - it will be interesting to compare the time taken for decisions made in the first week of February 2010 (this list should be out shortly) with your findings for the first week of Feb 2009, to see if there is empirical evidence of this impression. Given that the system was so swamped and under resourced in recent years, I have felt that imposing a statutory deadline (as opposed to a statutory objective) on the Board would lead to rushed ill-considered decisions. It will be interesting to see if they respond in a timely fashion now.


well perhaps but you could also argue that the provision of all party direct consultation extends third party rights beyond that which they already have. In order for this idea to work it would obviously require people not to have to travel great distances to attend. Ok, having the objection annulled because of non-attendance is harsh but you can't make an omelette etc. And I'm also sure that the life of someone in Clare will not be adversely effected by a house extension on the South Circular.

I also do not see why the like of AT should be afforded rights over and above the general public, including paying less for the privilege - that is, if anything, correcting a blatant inequality of rights rather than curtailing them

Your second argument - sorry, I don't know how to break quotes up - is a bit like saying that average road speeds have dropped dramatically because we've run out of petrol. So what if ABP is catching up ( which they're not - over 50% decided by the 5th February were over the 18 weeks) - what happens if we ever take off again?. It seems the perfect time to put measures in place that they can get used to in the hiatus
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby saintleger » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:09 pm

Sorry, I amn't even able to quote, never mind break quotes up!

All party direct consultation could certainly be useful, but would developers actually go with an open mind, or just see it as an opportunity to explain the benefits of their development to third parties? That reminded me of Shirley Arnheim's seminal Ladder of Participation article - available online if anyone is interested.

http://lithgow-schmidt.dk/sherry-arnstein/ladder-of-citizen-participation.html

Introducing a locus standii would bring its own problems - what if you work beside a development site in Leixlip, but live in Carlow? What about something like a national football stadium, would that be open to the nation, or only the immediate neighbours? If you live in Cork, are you allowed to make submissions on developments in Heuston Station? Do you have in mind a situation like they have in New Zealand?

Do people living in Clare object to back garden extensions on the north circular? I know they're legally entitled to, but is it common enough to merit legislating for? "Hard cases makes bad law", as the man said.

I suppose AT, like the NRA, Bord Failte, etc, have rights over and above the rest of us because they're a national special interest group.

I completely agree with you that now is the time to be thinking about reform of the planning system. I'd like to see local government reform too, I think it's long overdue, and I think they go hand in hand. I just think that because the system was so overwhelmed and under-resourced over the past few years, that imposing a time limit then would have been a mistake, as ABP is the 'court of last resort' for most developments, I was happy (well, happy's not the word for it, but resigned) to let them take as long as it took.

What do you think about the systems that use a more defined and definitive development plan, to have a lot of the basic decisions made before you get to development control stage, do you think that would have benefits?

BTW, have you used two different measures for the slowness of the Board, or did I pick that up wrong? In February 2009, it was an average length of time taken (28 weeks), and in February 2010 it was the percentage of appeals which took more than the objective of 18 weeks (50%). Do you have the corresponding figures to hand to make direct comparisons? They must be catching up a bit, surely.
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby gunter » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:19 pm

saintleger wrote:I completely agree with you [wearnicehats] that now is the time to be thinking about reform of the planning system. I'd like to see local government reform too, I think it's long overdue . . . .


Reform yes, but what to do? I think the planning system needs An Bord Pleanála for national development proposals, no question, but there is a case to be made that all other planning would be better handled at local level, . . . . provided the Local Authorities get their act together.

At present, local authority planning departments appear to behave in an almost semi-detached way, probably because they know that the real decisions are being made at Bord level. That can't be good.

If the L.A. Development Plans [which already have statutory status, as pointed out by Devin elsewhere], were genuinely vision-lead and water-tight, could we trust the L.As to be a one-stop shop for planning, without an appeal option?
. . . . could save a lot of money and time, but more importantly it would hand back real responsibility to the Local authority planning departments, where it really should be in the first place.

I don't like systems that can't accommodate the out-of-the blue brilliant idea, so maybe there could be a role for the much maligned [and rightly so] RIAI.

What if you were the architect of a particularly brilliant scheme, a scheme that the L.A. Development Plan hadn't anticipated, maybe in that instance, in advance of making a planning application you could run your proposal past a statutory RIAI architectural-quality-referral-body that would judge whether your scheme had the claimed outstanding architectural merit and, if it stood up to some serious peer review, it could go forward for planning permission already certified with a 'genius' stamp from the RIAI.

If the RIAI now govern architecture in this country, why not take that a step further and make it stand over design quality in architecture [a bit like the existing award system, but in advance, where it might do some good].

Obviously there would have to be an acceptance that a withering review would correspondingly kill the project . . . . which would again happen before it started wasting the public's and the planners' time.

An RIAI 'council of elders' you say:rolleyes:
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby onq » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:26 pm

There are some things to be vorne in mind in every system of approvals.

Allow for diversity.

Beware undue haste.

Allow everyone to be heard.

These all involve standards, checks and balances.

I agree that a voice supporting higher standards of design could help.

But we've seen demographic and single use ghettos developed in the name of design before.

Few archtiects have experienced enough of human existence that they should be the sole arbiters of how buildings should support it.

That's why we are goverened by systems involving people with overviews and underviews, planners and engineers and urbanists all charged with addressing the fact that more people will shortly be livingin cities than anywhere else.

This isn't the world I grew up in, where many familes lived on the land and in small towns, and local economies were self-sufficient withing a region and not dependent on goods provided through a globalised transport system in a shinking world.

The price of my TV has come down, but I'm not certain that the programmes on it are any better - the point being that seminal ideas that look good on paper and/or work in one country or society don't necessarily work in others or when they are mass produced in reduced quality versions.

I remember the Seven Sisters in Ballymun, the point block remedy to inner city overcrowding. imappropriate to provide defensible space and a sense of place, of identity, and riddled with problems from poverty to drug addiction, they became the Fatima Mansions of their day.

Fatima Mansions were themselves hailed as the Irish New Housing of the Fifties, a place where you get piped clean running water and electricity - designed to house families in better environments than the inner city ghettos like Gardiner Street, and they went the same way.

Gardiner Street, before it was redeveloped, comprised of run down Georgian tenements. But these debased example of housing stock had started out life as dwellings as salubrious as the later Fitzwilliam Merrion Estates only to be let fall into decay by unscrupulous landlords

We need to think far beyond the individual building application or even an estate application, towards the Strategic Development Zone Guidelines for such as Adamstown, and develop not a Generational, 25-year view [we have a five year, not a twenty five year window on development plans at the moment] but a 100-year view looking forward.

To those who say how can we develop 100-year views when we cannot even deal with 25-year [Generational] views I say - how can we not?!

If we're setting standard for development we have to start with setting out our terms of reference.

We need to think bigger, for longer, more in depth.

We need to become The Man with the Plan.

Because with the current avalanche of Bank-driven financial ruin facing Ireland Incorporated over the next five years, we surely need to be able to see beyond that in the hope of providing a better future for our children.

ONQ.
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onq
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby wearnicehats » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:14 pm

this is all becoming very prosaic and 5th year but is moving away from the immediate issue of how to streamline the system that we are stuck with
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Re: What to do about the SYSTEM?

Postby henno » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:17 pm

wearnicehats wrote:this is all becoming very prosaic and 5th year but is moving away from the immediate issue of how to streamline the system that we are stuck with


The most immediate way to 'streamline' the system is to make planners more communicative during the process with the agents. The planners take on this 'untouchable' role during the application process, and, more often than not on 'demanding' projects, do a Pontius Pilate and take the easy decision to refuse. I have seen many cases lately where the planners are asking for exceptionally convoluted further information which seem to indicate policies not included in CDPs. Its hard not to view these FIs as delay tactics to show numbers of applications on books.
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