Connacht Tribune

Galway County Council pre-planning meetings still on hold

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Pre-planning meetings are unlikely to return until July at the earliest while the Planning Department of Galway County Council remains short-staffed.

Ordinarily, the local authority holds pre-planning meetings with people who intend to lodge a planning application to build.

At the meetings, planners give advice about the process and give heads up on what issues are likely to arise or give rise to a refusal.

They are considered useful for the applicant and their agents, such as engineers or architects, to flag any problems in advance.

But pre-planning meetings have not been occurring for months now due to a shortage of staff in the Planning Department.

And Director of Services Michael Owens has confirmed to county councillors that there will be no pre-planning meetings for the rest of May or in June.

Mr Owens confirmed that the Council has funding to take on more staff, and it conducted interviews, but there were not enough applicants to match the number of staff vacancies.

The Council would continue to try to fill the vacancies.

Councillor Michael Connolly (FF) said pre-planning meetings were very important for people applying for planning permission. He wondered whether they could be conducted online, to save time and staff resources.

Mr Owens said that online meetings could be considered but pre-planning meetings were still time-consuming and required a site visit, plus time before the meeting for the planner to be up to speed on the area of each application.

He said he would update councillors on the recruitment process at the next meeting.

Previously, Mr Owens told councillors that the volume of planning applications had increased by 20%, which was putting pressure on the Planning Department.

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