Re: Re: Developments in Cork
Some interesting planning developments::
Roche tackles “rogue developers”
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dick Roche T.D. announced today (17 Oct. 06) that he has signed a Commencement Order for a number of key measures contained in the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.
As well as introducing a new strategic consent process for major infrastructure of national and public importance the Act also introduces a number of important changes relating to applications for planning permissions generally. The Minister emphasised the particular importance of Section 9 of the Act which will enable planning authorities to withhold planning permissions from rogue developers on the basis of past history of non-compliance, for instance, for not completing housing estates.
“Any such abuse of our planning code cannot be tolerated. In the past some rogue developers have been getting away with not doing their jobs. Until now planning authorities have been required to prove an applicant’s history of non-compliance with permissions or conditions of permissions before the High Court before they could act. However, good sense would suggest that the onus should be on the applicant to apply to the High Court to have such refusals annulled. That is the effect of this new ‘rogue developers clause’. In essence this measure reverses the burden of proof and should make it easier for local authorities to tackle bad developers.”
Other important provisions now commenced will enhance the powers of the Board to deal with appeals made primarily, or solely, with the intention of extracting money from the applicant. Minister Roche commented that “Occasional spurious and groundless appeals are an unfortunate feature of our system. They pervert our democratic processes and divert time and resources away from dealing with authentic and justified appeals. In this regard the powers of the Board have previously been insufficient, but I am confident that the new measures will redress that situation and ensure that the Board is suitably equipped to deal appropriately with appeals that are made primarily, or solely with the intention of extorting money from an applicant”.
Important provisions relating to the submission of documents to the Board in relation to planning appeals have also now been commenced. At present only the information provided by the applicant or generated by the planning authority must be sent on to the Board by the relevant planning authority. The Act now requires that all submissions should be forwarded to the Board to be taken into account and not just those received from prescribed bodies. This would mean that any person who makes a submission in relation to an application can be certain that that submission will also ultimately be considered by the Board if an appeal is made.
Other Sections of the Act now commenced include those relating to;
Â· Conditions that can be imposed by a planning authority on a planning permission, including conditions requiring developers to maintain an existing amenity for the public;
Â· Referral of disputes in relation to compliance conditions to An Bord Pleanala;
Â· Enhanced participation for NGO’s in the planning process. The proposed change will mean that NGO’s that fulfil certain conditions need not prove “substantial interest”, though they must still of course establish substantial grounds for any challenge. Allowing such concerned groups access to the courts in appropriate cases reinforces the democratic process as well as ensuring that our Aarhus obligations continue to be fulfilled.
Â· Acquisition of sub stratum lands (lands below 10 m) at nil value, unless the claimant can prove otherwise, potentially saving both time and money in the metro projects.
Minister Roche concluded by saying that all necessary steps were being taken to ensure that the main strategic infrastructure provisions of the Act could be commenced later in the Autumn.