Thursday 7 February 2008

Incomplete planning applications ‘costing thousands’

PEOPLE in Kerry are “beggared and broke” by engineers and other professionals who submit incomplete planning applications on their behalf, it was claimed yesterday.

Cllr Danny Healy-Rae also accused some professionals of “getting away with murder” in ripping off people making planning applications.

Council officials acknowledged the work of some professionals in the planning process was “substandard”.

Potential new home owners are facing charges of between €2,500 and €3,500 to make a planning application to Kerry Co Council, a meeting of Killarney area councillors was told.

In some cases, professional agents advised clients to re-submit applications even though they had been refused planning permission in the first place for valid reasons, according to Independent councillor Mr Healy-Rae: “They are getting away with murder and leaving people beggared and broke because they don’t do their job properly.

“Some of these agents would be struck off if there were professional standards and they’re charging astronomical money.”

Senior planning engineer Paul Stack said the submission of large numbers of incomplete applications was one of the big issues in planning in Kerry: “Going by the standard of forms, at times we wonder if assessments are done at all.

“At the moment, people who don’t know what they are about are submitting assessments. Anyone submitting an application should have a seven-day FÁS course completed,” he said.

In the first six months of last year, further information had to be requested by planning officials in regard to 31%, or 183, of planning applications in the Killarney area.

The requests for further information were made, in many cases, when the assessment section on the form relating to the site and percolation was not properly completed, as set out in the Environmental Protection Agency manual.

Independent councillor Brendan Cronin said this puts clients to extra, unnecessary expense: “Clients should seriously consider holding off on payments to agents until a final decision is made on an application. I think we’ve been too soft on agents for too long.”

Executive staff member Paul Stack said council was forming a panel of agents and applications would only be accepted from those on the panel.

Advertisements were being placed in the newspapers and interested agents could apply to be placed on the panel.

Irish Examiner

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