AN Bord Pleanála is one of the State agencies that stands between us and some sort of mayhem.
Its decisions may not always be welcomed by developers, especially if their projects are vetoed. Residents may be frustrated too if an unwanted development is approved for their neighbourhood. Nevertheless a strong, independent watchdog is essential.
Its role as an arbiter is reflected in the number of legal challenges taken against it. The agency is dealing with boom-time levels of challenge and an ever-greater proportion of its rulings are contested in the courts. The board is also spending more on legal fees than it did during the 2007 construction boom even though the number of cases it is involved in is less than a third of those it faced that year. This, like the water and rental issues detailed above, speaks to many of the challenges facing society. Planning legislation that may be too ambiguous, the pre-eminence given to property rights in our hierarchy of obligations, and, despite the strongest encouragement from the all but forgotten troika, legal costs far above the EU norm. And who benefits from all of this?
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