Sligo tops poll for planning decisions

SLIGO County Council provides the best planning service and Clare the worst, according to a study.

The survey, commissioned by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, found 80% of architects feel that planning decisions nationwide do not support good quality building design.

Institute president Seán Ó Laoire said that there were “considerable variations” among planning departments nationwide.

However, according to Clare County Council’s senior planner John Bradley, the result of the survey “doesn’t stack up”.

Mr Ó Laoire said the lack of consistency among local authorities “is wasting the resources of architects who have lodged planning applications as well as that of the local authorities themselves”.

Architects surveyed complained that many local planners were either under-qualified, under-trained or gave poor advice at pre-planning meetings and that many councils were not providing an on-the-spot system for checking the validity of planning applications.

“The survey results show that we are not in a position to deliver quality in the built environment with current planning practices,” said Mr Ó Laoire.

“There are considerable variations in planning practices from one local authority to another.”

The survey found the greatest criticism, held by 17% of respondents, was that planners in local authorities are under-qualified or under-trained.

Clare’s John Bradley said his county’s planners were highly qualified and their own surveys found that the public was very happy with its planning service.

He said there was also inconsistency in the survey.

“On the one hand the survey speaks about too much political interference in planning in Munster but in the next sentence it says there is no political influence.”

The survey, conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes, showed 51% of architects are concerned about councils not providing an on-the-spot validation service.

Just 14% suggest that local authorities they dealt with in the last two years provided an on-the-spot validation service.

Mr Ó Laoire explained: “After the passage of the 2000 Planning Act, a system of checking planning applications for compliance with submission requirements — to ensure better quality applications — was introduced and this is referred to as validation.

“However, in reality, the validation process has proven to be more time consuming and expensive for many applicants and the local authorities than the actual planning permission process itself.

“In general, high levels of on-the-spot validation service provision equate to high levels of satisfaction with the management of planning applications (such as Sligo County Council and Limerick County Council).

“However this is not always necessarily the case.

“41% of those dealing with Clare County Council claim it provides an on-the-spot validation service, but overall satisfaction levels with this local authority is 38%,” said Mr Ó Laoire.

How your council rated

THE BEST:

1. Sligo County Council.

2. Longford County Council.

3. Cork City Council.

4. Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council (joint).

5. Monaghan County Council.

6. Fingal County Council.

7. Dublin City Council.

THE WORST:

1.Clare County Council.

2. Kildare County Council.

3. Wicklow County Council.

4.Galway City Council.

5. Wexford Borough Council.

6. Cork County Council. and Westmeath County Council (joint).

7. Leitrim County Council.

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