RIAI DIRECTOR John Graby had a right good go at the planners when he addressed the National Housing Conference in Sligo this week. Instead of the “streamlined” approach promised 10 years ago, he said architects still experienced the system as something of a nightmare. Take pre-planning discussions: “Ring on Thursdays between 10am and 11am”, one architect was told. Or “the planning officer you met has left and there is no record of the meeting”, or “Christmas Eve at midnight on the summit of Croagh Patrick”.
Graby, dubbed “Cardinal Mazarin” by RIAI president Seán O Laoire, complained that each of the country’s 88 local authorities has its own planning application form, all different, when there should be a standardised form, “Michael O’Leary-style”.
One applicant who had dowloaded a form from a local authority’s website had his planning application invalidated for using the wrong form. “Ah, well, we have changed the form but it’s not on the web yet”, an official told him.
All of this resulted in “massive transactional costs” and delays, Graby said, adding that even after a planning application had been “validated” it was often followed up with a further information request.
Under the heading “planning creep”, he said many local authorities went way beyond what the Planning Act required in an application, demanding letters of consent from adjoining owners, stormwater audits, daylight and shadow analyses and waste management plans.