THE CHILDREN of landowners were coming into planners presenting unsuitable sites as "the only site available" to them from their parents, Kerry county manager Tom Curran said yesterday. This was quite unfair as it "put the gun" to planners' heads when other sites were available, he said.
Mr Curran appealed to councillors not to be unduly influenced by individual cases, but to look instead at the overall strategy for proper planning in the new county development plan. The capacity of the landscape had to be allowed to determine the number of houses allowed, and the same density could not be allowed in areas of prime special amenity as in other areas.
He said families who were giving children sites could be much more flexible in the choice of site offered. "If there was more flexibility from a family point of view, maybe some of the problems you are encountering as councillors could be resolved."
Mr Curran said that in one year alone, 2007, the council had granted permission for 3,968 units. This was enough to accommodate 9,920 people. In other words, Kerry County Council had granted enough planning permission in one year to accommodate 14 times the population increase in the census period 2002 to 2006.
He was responding to conflicting reports from councillors in advance of the new six-year plan, he told a special planning meeting.
Fine Gael councillor Johnny O'Connor said housing on the Ring of Kerry would not be a problem if landscaping and screening plans were set down and implemented.
Sinn Féin councillor Toireasa Ferris said in the coming years "no-body would get permission" in north Kerry. The difficulties being encountered were because of directives from the EU.
Labour councillor Pat Leahy from the Listowel electoral area said there had been a huge improvement in obtaining planning for farmers and others who owned land. But "the major problem now is for people who don't own land". Town dwellers who wished to move to the countryside were being refused planning on sites they had bought, he said.
Some councillors highlighted what they said was lack of consistency among planners. Cllr Norma Foley (FF) said "not all planners sing off the same hymn sheet" and guidelines for applicants should be more specific.
The draft plan will go on public display next month.