Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cork city manager releases planning probe

Cork’s city manager has released an internal planning probe ordered by the ex-environment minister, John Gormley, almost two years ago.
It is understood that Tim Lucey is the first head of the six local authorities — Carlow, Meath, Cork and Galway county councils, as well as Dublin and Cork city councils — which were the subject of such planning probes ordered by Mr Gormley, to voluntarily release their internal reports.

Mr Lucey said the city council had received "no correspondence or contact of any nature to indicate the status of the review, or the department’s views on the response of the city council" since it was submitted in Jun 2010.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan denied he cancelled the investigations.

Mr Lucey moved over the weekend to release the internal report in the wake of controversy following the publication of the Mahon Tribunal report.

He said the report on specific planning complaints relating to Cork City Council, compiled by ex-city manager Joe Gavin, had nothing to do with the matters under investigation by the Mahon Tribunal.

He said he wanted to release the report to prove the council had nothing to hide. He said it was unfortunate that, in the wake of the Mahon Report, the local authority planning probes were receiving a significant amount of comment.
In a letter to councillors, he said: "In this regard, you should note... from the report... that the issues raised are not in any way related to the nature of the matters which were under investigation by the Mahon Tribunal.

"Also, you should note that the city council’s response indicated clearly that it was satisfied with the procedures following its dealing with the planning applications reviewed and that the planning decisions taken were in accordance with the city development plan policies in operation at the time."

He said non-release of the report could create the perception the city council has something to hide.

The probe was launched after Green Party activist Mick Murphy lodged complaints about the council’s handling of three planning applications:

* One lodged in 2005 for the demolition of buildings and the erection of a mixed-use residential and commercial development at Victoria Cross Rd and Carrigrohane Rd;

* One lodged in Jan 2008 for a co-located private hospital on the grounds of Cork University Hospital;

* One lodged in June 2008 for the demolition of a dwelling and the erection of a three to four-storey apartment block at Farranlea Park, off Model Farm Rd.

Mr Murphy complained some records relating to pre-planning consultations were not made available on public files because of the council’s interpretation of certain planning laws.

Read the article @ The Irish Examiner


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