Planning Invalidations – back to the bad ol’ days?

Following the 2000 Planning Act and the 2001 Planning Regulations; each planning authority had a legal obligation (and exact requirements) to validate each and every planning application to ensure that all the required information was present.

Prior to the 2000 Act, the planning authorities exercised discretion when they found a deficiency in a planning application, a letter or telephone call was made and the matter was speedily resolved, without delay to the planning process.

The improvement sounds good but the problem arose that planning invalidations were given for the most spurious of reasons. The RIAI even had a competition for the most bizarre planning invalidation. The winner was Derek O’Leary of Dalton + O’Donnell Limited Architects, Naas, Co. Kildare who won a bottle of vintage champagne because they missed out the word ‘dimension’ after every dimension on the drawing! The near-winners were just as ridiculous.

The outcome has serious delay on the time and cost to obtain planning; frequently the invalidation would occur after the two week newspaper notice (which therefore required another notice at additional cost). It was also not uncommon for the second planning application to be invalidated for just as bizarre but different reasons from the first!

The problem was compounded that this planning change occurred at exactly the same time as the period of largest growth in the Irish construction industry. As the amount of planning applications grew, so did the time taken for the validation process to complete; I remember one that was invalidated at the 8 week period.

The situation did improve following complaints; councils implemented an ‘over-the-counter’, ‘same-day’ validation procedure. Many councils would guarantee a validated file (or the opportunity to amend what was required) by the day’s end when the application was lodged in the morning.

The problem now is that with public sector cut backs; Councils are seriously understaffed and don’t have the same resources as they did in the validation procedure. I have just received back a valid application (thank god) that took over 4 weeks for the process to complete; this is only one week away from the 5 week submissions date. I won’t mention the council but it’s not Mayo!

County Mayo has a procedure where each individual planner validates their own files and it’s working brilliantly; that combined with the ability to submit your planning application online puts Mayo streets ahead of the rest of Ireland. For more information on Mayo County Councils online planning CLICK HERE

Anyhows, thank god the file got validated and at least we’re only a few weeks away now from receiving a decision…

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