Planning Official Misbehaving

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    • #711442

      On a recent visit to my local County Council planning office to check a file I overheard a member
      of staff giving the contact details of a ‘person’ who could prepare a planning application on behalf
      of a member of the public who was there enquiring about the planning process. To my knowledge
      it is not policy of most planning authorities to give out contact details or refer the public to any
      particular agent. I also overheard the planning official saying ‘that his quy was in-expensive and
      would look after Mr. Joe Public. I put lot of work through the particular Planning Office in question
      and am reluctant to draw attention to myself by complaining to the director of planning. I
      wondered if any-one had any suggestions as to how this could be handled?

    • #817397

      get a pal who’s not in the business to write to the Director of Planning as if it was they who overheard – be careful not to name anyone – be vague about the date and time. Ask the Director if, in their opinion, this is acceptable and, if not, request that the staff in general be reminded of their responsibilities. Ask for acknowledgement and clarification in any event.

    • #817398

      Thanks wnhats. Yes this is probably a sensible approach. I got the feeling that the official in question made up his own rules and would
      make a stand. I actually turned around when overhearing him and was about to query what he was doing on the spot, but
      sense prevailed and I kept quiet. This occurance, while being only quiet low-level, highlights the lack of accountability
      among our public servants and the powerlessness of the ‘individual State subject’ when faced with corruption.

    • #817400

      A primary source of bad practice in and around planning authorities is the procuring of relationships with persons of questionable design or planning ability whose claim to fame may be a relationship with a local councilor.

      We took over a project where the previous incumbent – supposedly another one of these custodians of the public good the OP refers to – had submitted misleading information to the local authority and having dis-improved my client’s position (they were led and said by him, as you might imagine) he walked away from the problem.

      Its was left up to us to come in and negotiate a permission based on significant planning gain, logical assurances and a state of the art treatment system.
      So not only is this a questionable, possibly a corrupt practice, but it doesn’t do what it says on the tin either.

    • #817399

      I overheard a member of staff giving the contact details of a ‘person’ . . .

      If this member of staff was working in a public area of the offices, then he/she may not occupy more than a junior role.
      Of course, it’s unlikely that junior officials would risk a solo run and act without their senior’s approval.
      And it’s always bad practice anyway, however innocent or well-intended the advice may be.

      So Wearnicehats’ idea of a query to the senior planner is desirable.
      Problem is that no formal query can be made anonymously, so your buddy will have to identify him/herself and provide a plausible (yet very common) purpose for his/her presence in the planning offices, e.g. checking on septic tank upgrading options.

    • #817401

      One word of warning.

      We didn’t “expose” the person involved in making our clients previous application gratuitously.
      The exposure arose as a consequence of a review of the planning process to date and our questioning of information received.
      When it became apparent from closer review that matters on the ground varied from previous submissions this tended to work in our clients favour.

      The point I’m making – which is directed most at the OP – is that sometimes these creatures that suck on the LA teat are well-connected in several ways and not just by blood relation.
      Exposing them for the sake of it could result in several consequences for the OP within the community and I would be wary about how this is approached.

      Corollary evidence is useful such as

      – there being a disproportionate amount of sub-standard planning applications under this person’s name or
      – where people who cannot draw a line are some how submitting drawings in their own name

      Such information may be of interest to several persons.

      The RIAI are always keen to hear about people with no design training making applications that affect the built environment.
      Local authority planning officers are keener these days to see where such possibly compromised work originates.
      The revenue are always keen to hear about alternative streams of income for PAYE workers.
      I LOVE hearing about people who double job in a recession myself!!!

    • #817402

      Needless to say I kept my mouth shut and am still ‘a powerless subject of the state’. With an ailing practice,
      a half completed Tech Assessment Submission, threatening letters from the custodians of title in Merrion Square,
      i don’t feel like making any enemies in the LA. Interesting replies gents : :wave: Architech

    • #817403

      Hi Architech :thumbup:

      Aha, you got the letter too did you?
      Well done for committing to and progressing your Technical Assessment Submission.
      I don’t speak for the RIAI as you may know from reading my posts, but I strongly support Registration.
      However I also support Competence and the one thing some RIAI lack is technical competence in terms of detailing – more Techs won’t hurt!

      Your Tech Assessment preparation will help you should matters proceed to Court, but I would not expect to see a rash of Court action any time soon.
      This is a warning shot letter, designed to promote people coming forward to apply for Registration and to engage with the process – there is a very low take up.
      Courts will normally be mindful of the cost factor in a recession, so long as you show you are not willfully ignoring the law or deliberately defying the Competent Authority.
      If you haven’t already done so I suggest you write a letter of acknowledgment to the Registrar/ the RIAI confirming receipt of their letter and stating where you are with your Technical Assessment.

      As for being a “powerless subject of the state” in 2010 myself and one other helped bring in the “Building Control Amendment Bill 2010” which was receiving widespread cross-party support before the fall of the last government.
      Teachta Dala’s who said they would support it and who are currently part of the Government at this time are likely be called to account for their actions if any cases proceed to court.
      Party leaders such as Eamon Gilmore who have been less than enthusiastic may well be singled out for exposure in the courts, press, online media and blogs.

      There is a huge sense of incompetent officialdom (Dept of Finance) riding roughshod over people’s rights at the moment (impending Budget) and a heavy handed court action could light a fire the RIAI could be burnt by.
      I have never got that impression from any of my discussions with John Graby – he always gives the impression that prompting and consensus, not draconian measures, are his preferred methods – carrot and stick, as opposed to cannons.

      Apart from that, any previous comments that the Minister of the day – then John Gormly – would be taking action are not support by the wording of the act – my understanding its the responsibility of the Statutory Body to initiate Court action, not the DOE.
      The DOE has already said it will support Wicklow County Council in its €50 Million Clean up of the Whitestown Quarry in West Wicklow – that could corral any spare cash the DOE may have.
      On the face of this the RIAI must take the case, yet they may not have a large war chest – for example the Architect’s Benevolent Fund will be coming under huge strain this year.

      As we know, taking legal action costs money, and all of the above suggests we should expect to see one or two “test” cases first, not a flood.
      So don’t go into a tailspin over the letter – continue with your preparation for the Technical Assessment and assume UP to face this!

      Best of luck with it.


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