I read your blog and decided to take you up on your offer of advice.
I live in a rural area of North Sligo and all of the surrounding land is
zoned as agricultural in the village mini-Plan. However, the County Council
proposes rezoning some of this land as suitable for housing which would mean
the end of the "green belt" between the houses where I live and the village
This is my question: Is rezoning a matter for the County Council only
or is there an appeal to An Bord Planála?
The council staff have clearly held discussions with the "developers" behind this move so I do not have
much faith in that body.
Feel free to give me a call. In the meantime, I'll answer your query. Re-zoning comes under what are called 'resered functions', functions reserved to the Council. This means that re-zoning decisions can only be made by Councillors. The County Manager and professional planners comments in various ways stipulated under the Planning Acts, but in the end, re-zoning decisions (good and bad) are made by Councillors. Why planners get the blame I do not know. An Bord Pleanala has no role in re-zoning whatsoever. When re-zoning sometimes appears to get out of control, the Minister will occasionally write a letter, as he did with Laois Co. Co., during the passage of its last Development Plan, but this occurs seldom and appears to make little difference.
What you can do is make your own submission to the Council to register your opposition to the proposed re-zoning.
On the question of Council staff meeting with developers, this is standard and necessary. There are plenty of complaints that Councils are not pro-active enough in planning for areas, without such consultations, there'd be little or no planning at all. Planners do not develop anything, we rely on developers for this (public and private) and we discuss sites all the time. Some go ahead, some don't. The ones which are shot down - the really, really bad ones - never get mentioned in the press. These consultations are a necessary part of planning. Regarding the nature and outcome of this consultation, I cannot comment.
Hope that helps,