A Louth County Council official told public representatives yesterday that the planning system in Co Louth is being "called into disrepute" and "there has to be something fundamentally wrong" because of the number of exceptions being made under so-called section 140 motions.
Senior planning official Gerry Duffy made his comments to the councillors yesterday as they began a debate on one such motion. If passed, the motion would materially contravene the county development plan and allow a couple to build a detached 286sq m (938sq ft) house in Clogherhead. Permission for the house was originally rejected.
The planning system allows for such a decision to be overturned if most councillors support a section 140 motion. Such a motion which directs the county manager to grant permission, must be signed by five councillors and supported by most councillors.
Mr Duffy said he could not accept without any supporting evidence claims by a councillor that some applicants have been advised by planners to sell their homes to get planning permission, as the county development plan states that applicants for one-off dwellings may not be homeowners for five years.
"There has to be something fundamentally wrong if after the county development plan we are still facing section 140 motions . . . it calls the whole planning situation into disrepute," he said.
In relation to the application in question, Mr Duffy said the couple did not have a housing need and are living in a house built on a family farm just 200 metres away. The councillors unanimously voted in favour of the motion and will now grant permission for the house.
© 2007 The Irish Times