Council to review planning

Longford County Council are still reviewing developer-led planning decisions made during the boom following revelations it had not complied with stringently imposed government guidelines.

Longford County Council are still reviewing developer-led planning decisions made during the boom following revelations it had not complied with stringently imposed government guidelines.

Local authority officials made the decision just as a newly released report confirmed Longford, along with seven other local authorities were falling behind with recently introduced planning reform legislation.

The calls, made in the wake of last month’s Mahon Report publication, required council management to undertake reviews of local maps following the construction collapse.

Government chiefs were hoping to start compiling those findings this week in a bid to ensure planning mistakes of the past are not revisited.

But just as those preparations were set in motion earlier this week, it also emerged that eight local authorities, including Longford, missed the deadline set down by Leinster House officials.

Reacting to the news, Housing Minister Jan O’Sullivan warned local authority executives of their obligations as the Government looks to clean up the State’s overall planning system.

“I note, with some concern, that there are still eight city and county councils who, while having started the core strategy process to review their zonings, have not completed that process within statutory timeframes,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

The Limerick City TD also confirmed she intended writing to those councils, advising them of their statutory responsibilities. “I will be communicating with the chairs and managers of these local authorities in the days ahead to ensure that the legislation is complied with,” she continued.

In response, a county council statement released to the Leader this week, revealed staff were still working on its own internal review.

The process was one the council said was being undertaken in the midst of ongoing cost-cutting measures and vastly reduced capabilities.

“Longford Local Authorities are currently reviewing their Development Plans in consequence to the Planning & Development (Amendment) Act, 2010,” the statement read.  “Simultaneous incorporation of  the Core Strategies will reprioritize currently zoned lands and dezoning of certain lands.”

This review is being carried out within the constraints of limited resources, and in accordance with ‘value for money’ principles of not duplicating processes of cost and time involved in the review of Development Plans, and complying with Quarries Legislation, Flood Risk Assessment, Appropriate Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment.”

It’s estimated around 42,000 hectares of land were zoned for housing in 2009, culminating in an oversupply of 4.5 times the actual need. By reviewing zoning, the Government hopes to get that down to just over 11,000 hectares, which it claims will meet future housing needs.