Planning chairman ‘regrets’ design stance

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    • #711370

      The retiring Chairman of Bord Pleanala, Mr John O’Connor, told the National Planning Conference in Galway yesterday (Fri) his biggest regret was that the appeals board had not taken a strong stand against residential development during the Celtic Tiger years. Mr O’Connor, who is stepping down shortly after 11 years in the post also said that land rezoning was the issue that brought Ireland’s planning system most into disrepute. And he maintained that excessive and unsustainable zoning of land had been a contributor to the property bubble.

      He stated: “My greatest regret is that the Board did not take a stronger stand against residential developments that were based on bad zoning, remotely located and of poor design quality. . It is essential if we are to avoid a recurrence of the boom/bust cycle that demand is not artificially inflated by financial incentives and considerations.”

      “I did realise at the time that some of the developments coming before the Board, particularly residential schemes, were questionable and indeed at publication of various annual reports I referred to concerns about the poor standard of some of the developments in tax incentive areas, the appropriateness of the suburban type schemes being attached to towns and villages around the country and to the sustainability of the zoning policies of many local authorities.

      Planning chairman ‘regrets’ design stance

    • #816858

      I have a feeling that it would have made little difference if they had taken a stand; firstly they would have judicial reviews every day of the week as design quality is ultimately subjective and with the last Government you had a tent enterprise that would have been very happy to have abolished an Bord throwing the credit to Lowry and Healy Rae as a prize to go to the localists that vote for them. The real problem here is not the planning professionals but the quantum of rezonings and absolute ambiguity in development plans as to what actually constitutes design quality. It is fair to say that any organisation that upholds professionally written observations at a rate exceeding 90% can stand over their impartiality in what were very shark infested times where they were in a goldfish bowl. I hope he has a fruitful future in pastures new..

      Ghost Estate Ireland is a reminder that unless you insist on professional architects with the relevant experience designing schemes and set minimum design standards in the development plans then once the music stops it is often financially preferable for the bank to cut their losses long after the developer is wiped out. Shit only sells in a fear driven market…..

    • #816859

      You’re letting him off soft, PVC.

      Whatever regulations may be put in to local authority or even national planning
      guides, there will always be gombeen builders assisted by their lawyers and architects
      who will seek to “develop” and define the grey areas.
      And it is really for safeguarding the essence of the spirit of good planning that a
      body such as An Bórd Pleanála has been established.

      I believe that their positions are like academics or judges in that they cannot be fired simply
      for having the views that they have or making the decisions that they do.
      Yet — all too like many academics and a depressing number of judges — they are
      often simply not ballsy enough to do the right thing against the clamour and
      social bullying manoeuvres of moneyed appellants.

      The process of making appointments to An Bórd Pleanála needs urgent reform.
      The guys with the right stuff (not simply the right professional qualifications)
      have not come through in the past.

    • #816860

      Teak in a Fianna Failed free environment I would have agreed with you 100%

      Far too much interference in the planning system by the last government; Bord Pleannala could refuse a certain number of developments if they had started refusing the number that would have been refused in any Scandinavian country you would seen a return to the minister as point of second instance. Rural Planning say no more…….

    • #816861

      Are you sure about all that ?

      Their job wasn’t to give politically acceptable decisions, nor to avoid appearing executively irrelavant.
      At least were they to have given a good few refusals of crazy schemes — and maybe a few refusal overturns of homes denied on so-called ‘design’ grounds — we’d at least see who the real devils were when the councils met to force them through.
      In times of mass delusion ABP should have been the force of reason by their refusal.

    • #816862


      “My greatest regret is that the Board did not take a stronger stand against residential developments that were based on bad zoning, remotely located and of poor design quality”

      Given today’s Two Mile Boris board reversal of the inspectors decision no-one listened.


    • #816863

      The inclusion in planning legislation of an Bord having to account of Government policy throws up a number of non-planning considerations. I have no doubt they looked at the crater that is construction employment and decided that as it is two miles from Boris’s dog shed that it is the proposal most capable of creating significant construction employment whilst having quite minimal environmental or canabilisation of existing trade impacts. Not a scheme I would champion but in this market if they can make it stack up and fund it then the very best of luck to them.

    • #816864

      I wasn’t awar ethat ABP had a “design stance”

      If he’d come out and say how exactly a democratic process can exist when ABP are unapproachable, answerable to no-one and frequently overrule their own inspectors without reason or recourse then maybe I’d be interested. Otherwise it’s out with the old, in with the new. Same shite different arse.

    • #816865

      It is a quasi judicial process; would you prefer to see a system where silks held meetings at a cost of €5k a day? The system of oral hearings for major schemes and submit and decision in minor ones is in my opinion the correct one. In the UK you appeal to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and again it is a submit and decision process. I would suggest the appearance of democracy is why so many decisions diverge from inspectors reports which if anything offer the applicant a better chance to influence the process by being present during the site inspection and where there are more recommonendations to refuse overturned than recommendations to grant turned over.

    • #816866

      To hell with the silks.
      But there must be a better way of running An Bórd Pleanála than how it is
      at the moment.
      For one thing, it ought be wholly free of the DoEnv or any other department
      or state body : in its appointees, administration, processes and its self-
      reform procedures.

      We just can’t have people on An Bórd Pleanála who suffer attacks of social
      or professional vertigo every time a tough decision is in prospect.

    • #816867

      I find the Chairman’s comments disingenuous in the extreme.
      The Bord are charged primarily with upholding the principles of proper planning and sustainable development.
      Having regard to Government Policy cannot mean abandoning all planning principles and building isolated residential enclaves.
      Judicial Review is not the forums people seem to think it is – the Decisions of the Bord can only be reviewed on a Technical issue – not the whole case.

      It is quite clear that the Bord, as the ultimate arbiter of what was granted permission during the Tiger years, have a case to answer.
      On Planning Matters, the Bord is the ultimate arbiter, with the power to inspect and balance the decision appropriately.

      The Ex-Chairman wringing his his hands is very much a Pontius Pilate move designed to avoid public approbium.
      No one has really analyzed the parts played by Estate Agents Auctioneers and Valuers in all of this.
      No one has taken a case against any corrupt Council or barred people from seeking re-election.
      It is quite clear self-serving and corrupt decisions were made, yet nothing is being done.


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