Monday 19 September 2011

Travellers face court action over planning breaches

A council has had to take unprecedented action against Travellers to deal with a record number of breaches of planning regulations for housing in one town.

The Irish Independent has learnt that such is the level of non-compliance by individuals - predominantly Travellers - building in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, the local authority has begun a crackdown, including legal action.

A spokesman for Limerick County Council said the offenders were blatantly breaking planning laws and at least 40 cases were being investigated.

Some of those under investigation are related to the controversial Dale Farm community of Travellers in England.

The sites, buildings and individuals under investigation by the local authority are not connected to the 33-unit housing estate in Rathkeale which is being built by a member of the Dale Farm community.

This site is been built in accordance with planning and is not under investigation.

Regarding the breach of planning permission in 40 cases in Rathkeale, a spokesman for Limerick County Council said both members of the Travelling community and settled community had not complied with the law.

"There is some settled residents, but it is mainly members of the Travelling community. We have a significant problem in Rathkeale," the spokesman said.

The number of breaches of planning permission in Rathkeale by separate individuals is unparalleled. Many of the properties -- still under construction -- have not been built on the site as agreed upon in the planning application.

"The footprint of the houses is not being constructed on the site as laid out. The buildings have interfered with boundaries or other sites. We have to take enforcement action including going through the local district court," the spokesman said.

As a result, Limerick County Council has now had to adopt a new planning policy exclusively for Rathkeale. Only two houses at any one time can be built in any single development.

"Building will be done in a piecemeal manner in future -- there will be no mass developments altogether in one go," the spokesman said.

Some cases are proceeding to the local district court.

"We are making progress and intend to follow these through until there is a satisfactory resolution," the spokesman added.

Barry Duggan
Irish Independent

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