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Planning Regulator slammed over ‘copy and paste’ Development Plan submission


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Planning Regulator slammed over ‘copy and paste’ Development Plan submission

From the Galway City Tribune – The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has been accused of “copying and pasting” its recommended changes to the Draft Galway City Development Plan.

Councillors discussing the document, which is to guide development in the city from 2023 to 2029, said a recommendation issued by the OPR related to rural housing and highlighted an unfamiliarity with the city.

The recommendation sought the inclusion of a requirement of “demonstrable economic or social need” for housing on rural lands.

However, city planners said such an amendment was not required as this was something that already happened in the case of development on agriculturally-zoned lands – and that the city as a whole was defined as an “urban area”.

“It is therefore not considered appropriate to interpret the city, including the peripheral lands therein as equating with a planning context of county rural lands.”

Cllr John Connolly (FF) hit out at the OPR recommendation and said while it might be appropriate for other local authorities, it was not for Galway City Council.

“This is tedious and unnecessary stuff coming from the regulator . . . they have clearly shown they are unfamiliar with Galway.

“They have used copy and paste here and sent it to every local authority,” said the City West councillor.

Cllr Connolly said he believed the requirements heaped on those seeking to build on peripheral and family-owned land in the city were already too high and referenced two instances where it took well in excess of a year for two families he assisted just to go through the planning process.

Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) concurred and said the least that could be expected from the OPR was that it would familiarise itself with jurisdiction they were making recommendations for.

“I’m no planning expert and this is only my first City Development Plan [as a councillor] but this is really disappointing from the OPR. They are wasting our time, the planners’ time and the Chief Executive’s time.

“They’re copying and pasting to bulk up a document and wasting people’s time . . . a lot of the recommendations are just thrown in there,” said Cllr Hoare, adding that one recommendation had been related to towns and villages and did not apply to any city.

The Chief Executive recommended that in the section of the plan for agricultural housing, a line be inserted making it a requirement to provide documentary evidence of “a demonstrable economic and/or social need” for housing – despite the suggestion that the City Council already adhered to this in practice.

However, Cllr John Connolly proposed an amendment to remove this change and to maintain the status quo.

Cllr John Connolly’s amendment was accepted by 13 votes to four, with Cllr Colette Connolly (Ind), Cllr Owen Hanley (Soc Dem), Cllr Niall Murphy (Green) and Cllr Martina O’Connor (Green) voting against the amendment. Mayor Clodagh Higgins (FG) was absent.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 2. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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