Online planning application system launched by Mayo County Council

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government John Gormley officially launched Mayo County Council’s online planning application submission system this week. This makes Mayo the second local authority after Dublin City Council to offer this eGovernment service which is a significant addition to their current suite of online tools.

The new service will allow planning agents to submit planning applications for single houses and extensions electronically which will result in significant savings to both agents and the council. Planning agents will download the “smart form” and complete it without being online and then submit the completed form with payment using the portal.

“We decided to use the Adobe forms so that customers don’t need to be online as they fill out the application form. We found that applicants typically completed their forms a bit at a time and some even worked in the field. So, this offline option is the best for a rural county like Mayo,” said Pat Carroll, Head of Information Services in Mayo.

The system is currently being piloted by a number of planning agents and all agents will be invited to use the new system this autumn.

“The system will result in significant savings as staff won’t need to enter the application’s data into the back-end system and they won’t need to scan incoming documents submitted online. A single button push will see the forms processed and ready for evaluation by the planners,” said Carroll.

There are fewer than 100 planning agents in Mayo who together account for virtually all of the applications submitted and more than 60 per cent of all applications are for extensions or single dwellings. The council estimates that the new system will see at least half of all applications being made electronically by early 2010.

Mayo County Council offers a large number of tools on their website for the general public to use to review and monitor planning applications. These include an online planning observation system, an application monitor, a self-service pre-planning system which allows the public to see how the County Development Plan will impact on their proposed development, instructional videos, fee calculators, a site notice generator, an exemption self-assessment, access to scanned versions of all planning documents and more. Mayo County Council planners also meet the public each Wednesday at walk-in clinics around the county.

Director of Services Joe Loftus said: “Mayo constantly strives to make our services as easy-to-use for the citizen and as transparent as possible. This new tool is a huge achievement that will benefit both the public and the council. We will improve services while reducing costs.”

Mayo County Council hopes that this new service would act as a model for rural counties nationwide. The technology used could be easily redeployed to other city and county councils with few modifications.

The system was developed in-house by David Reddington and Rick Love of the IT section working with planner Alan DiLucia. The Adobe forms were created by Galway’s ATFM Solutions.


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