Re: Re: Irish Architects & Society

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That doesn’t quite make sense, wearnicehats. More staff = problem solved. No need to take the sledgehammer to the nut. In any event, you may be sure that whatever new system might be employed, it too would be afflicted by staff shortages during times of growth. Aside from the issue of delay (and I do appreciate it can be excruciating for a development), I believe the An Bord Pleanála appeal mechanisim is one of the best aspects of our planning system.

One issue, however, that desperately needs to be reviewed is the development levy system. We have a situation where planning authorities are often passing development applications partially, indeed if not in some cases principally, on the basis of potential streams of income to that authority, rather than on the basis of sound planning. This conflict of interest, which is what it is and what it should be called (and I have yet to hear it called that), needs be be rooted out of the system by means of an alternative levy collection agency. This could take the form of a central national fund administered by the Department of Environment into which all levies are deposited, and from which funds are then allocated to local authorites, partially on the basis of the level of development taking place in each jurisdiction, but also taking other factors such as population and infrastructure into account. There should also be a requirement that a percentage of funds paid by a development should be reinvested in a manner directly related to that development, in the form of paving works, civic spaces, road improvements and landscaping, implemented on the part of the authority. Some case-specific alowances would of course form part of that system.

Overall, this would release local authorities from the financial strings – and thus often political strings – attached to (particularly large-scale) developments, and at least offer the potential for a more planning-oriented planning system (the very notion!), whatever the reality of that may be on the ground.

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