Thursday 17 July 2008

Planners waste architects' time

Sligo is best, Clare worst local authority for dealing with planning applications says RIAI survey of 392 architects

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).

"The survey results show that we are not in a position to deliver quality in the built environment with current planning practices," RIAI president Seán Ó Laoire said, adding that it was up to the Department of the Environment to improve things.

He identified lack of consistency among local authorities as the main problem, saying this was "wasting the resources of architects who have lodged planning applications as well as that of the local authorities themselves". In the survey of 392 architects, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes, Sligo County Council was rated as the best planning service provider and Clare County Council as the poorest in terms of dealing with planning applications.

The greatest criticism was that planners were underqualified or under-trained, while 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 agreed that inconsistent advice at pre-planning meetings resulted in unnecessary redesign work, while just over half expressed concern that only 14 per cent of the local authorities 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 - aimed at ensuring 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 RIAI president complained.

The survey found that about one-third of all planning applications made by the architects who responded - some 15 per cent of the RIAI membership - were in Dublin, with 22 per cent in the rest of Leinster, 26 per cent in Munster and the rest in Connaught/Ulster.

The 10 best performing local authorities in order of rank were Sligo (6.23), Longford (6.2), Cork City (6.12), Limerick city (6.0), Limerick county (6.0), Monaghan (5.95), Fingal (5.94), Dublin city (5.9), Drogheda borough (5.81) and Louth (5.74).

The 10 worst performing local authorities, as scored by RIAI members, were Clare (3.82), Kildare (3.94), Wicklow (4.0), Kilkenny (4.03), Wexford borough (4.47), Leitrim (4.65), Cork (4.6), Westmeath (4.6), Kerry (4.88) and Offaly (4.9).

The performance of other local authorities in the Greater Dublin area were ranked as follows: South Dublin (5.73), Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown (5.33) and Meath (4.51) - all lagging some way behind Fingal and Dublin City.

The Irish Times

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