Westmeath county councillor Frankie Keena has called on all Oireachtas representatives in the Longford/ Westmeath constituency to carefully consider the proposed Planning and Development (Amendment ) Bill 2009 as it comes before them over the next couple of months.
Cllr Keena says he has “mixed feelings” on the proposed bill.
“For instance, it contains six sections, which seem to give increased powers to the Minister and the regional authorities in the delivery of local government. Within these sections, the bill proposes a number of amendments that would alter the way that county development plans are drawn up,” he said.
“Firstly, it would require local authorities to produce a written statement setting out the core strategy for a development plan. It also proposes that greater regard be given to the submissions and observations made by the Minister and Regional Authorities. What about the submissions made by the general public?
“Other amendments to the bill include the change in the majority required for a material contravention of the development plan to be passed, to be not less than two thirds of the member of the planning authority.”
However, Cllr Keena welcomed other sections of the draft bill, “for example Section 20 where it proposes that an applicant can be refused planning permission where they are not substantially compliant with a previous planning application”.
“This is something that I have been calling for for a long time at various council meetings. It addresses the issue of the rogue developers where they half complete a housing estate and then get permission to build another housing estate in another area,” said the councillor.
“The consequences of these actions are a disaster to those unfortunate people who purchased houses in these estates as they are left in limbo with unfinished footpaths, roads, and services. Now under this proposed new legislation the developer will not be able to get another planning granted until he complies with the original one first.
“Also Section 23 of the bill proposes a change in the power to extend the period of planning permission. This has to be welcomed as well, as it will give a breathing space to the large number of people who are unable to start building at this time due to the economic downturn,” added Cllr Keena.