Local planners return to the drawing board after ‘D’ grade

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

LIMERICK’S councils are among the worst in the country for making planning decisions, An Taisce has claimed.

LIMERICK’S councils are among the worst in the country for making planning decisions, An Taisce has claimed.

The national heritage body have produced a report which cites Donegal as having the worst planning record in the country, although no council achieved an A or B grade in its grading system.

Both Limerick city and county councils have received a ‘D’ grade based on a number of criteria, although is should be stressed that the highest grade handed out was a ‘C’. However, Limerick county council was the only local authority outside of the greater Dublin area to score within the top ten, in spite of its low grade.

The detailed report also singles out the “picturesque village of Adare” for mention, stating that the council management and planners stood up to the “reckless cronyism of councillors to stop inappropriate zoning”.

But the National Roads Authority (NRA) receives criticism in the report, due to their “ill-advised” traffic level expectations for the Limerick Tunnel, with taxpayers now footing the bill due to penalties for not reaching these targets.

An Taisce examined the records of 34 city and county councils using several factors including the percentage of planning decisions appealed to An Bord Pleanala and consequently reversed, vacant housing stock, one-off housing and land rezoned.

The report lists nine counties who they believe have failed the test for good decisions on housing and development.

Charles Stanley-Smith, An Taisce spokesman, said the legacy of bad planning will affect people living in these areas and society in general for many generations. “Bad planning is not victim free. The analysis shows that there is a very strong correlation between councils that have scored poorly and a range of negative socio-economic and environmental outcomes,” he said.

Professor John Sweeney, president of An Taisce, said its purpose is not blinkered opposition to development, but opposition to blinkered development”. “While the planning system had a major role in creating the economic crisis, it can – if reformed – point us to prosperity,” he said. The report, State of the Nation: Ireland’s Planning System 2000-2011, gave four councils a C, 13 got a D, and eight received an E grade. Five councils received an F grade, and four councils received a minus F grade.

Minister for housing and planning, Jan O’Sullivan, agrees there is a need for reform of the planning system.