Wednesday 16 July 2008

Architects rate Sligo as best council for planning

Eighty per cent of architects believe that planning decisions made by local authorities do not support good quality design, according to a survey commissioned by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI).

In the survey, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, architects rated Sligo County Council as the best planning service provider and Clare County Council as the poorest in terms of dealing with planning applications.

RIAI president Seán Ó Laoire said the lack of consistency among local authorities “is wasting the resources of architects who have lodged planning applications as well as that of the local authorities themselves.

“The survey results show that we are not in a position to deliver quality in the built environment with current planning practices”, he said.

The greatest criticism was that planners were under-qualified or under-trained, whille 86 per cent felt the system was not good at coping with changes relating to the energy performance, accessibility and sustainability of buildings.

Fifty-eight per cent of respondents agreed that inconsistent advice at pre-planning meetings results in unnecessary redesign work, and over 60 per cent overall said it was up to the Department of the Environment to improve the planning process.

Just over half of the architects expressed concern that only 14 per cent of the local authorities they dealt with in the last two years provided an on-the-spot validation service.

Under the 2000 Planning Act, as Mr Ó Laoire noted, a system of checking planning applications for compliance with submission requirements – to ensure better quality applications – was introduced and this is referred to as validation.

“However, in reality, the validation process has proven to be more time consuming and expensive for many applicants and the Local Authorities than the actual planning permission process itself”.

The survey, which covered 392 RIAI members, found that about one third of all planning applications made by them were in the Dublin region, with 22 per cent in the rest of Leinster, 26 per cent in Munster and the rest in Connaught/Ulster.

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