More community involvement needed in pre planning process
Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said he will submit amendments to planning and development legislation that would include proper community involvement in the planning process.
Deputy Pringle said: “Ultimately I believe that the whole system would be improved by the addition of the community to a formal consultation stage at the pre-planning stage.”
The deputy addressed the Dáil on Thursday on the Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Development) Bill 2021.
He said the committee report on the bill highlighted a number of the problems that exist with it.
The deputy said: “The section around community involvement, I think, is telling in relation to the attitude of the Department in relation to the community views. The department noting ‘that community consultation should be taking place at the development plan stage’ shows a complete lack of understanding in relation to development, I would say. Maybe in an ideal world that should be the case but planning applications deal in a lot greater detail than a county development plan with a particular site.
“As the report says, ‘in practice, for many local communities planning issues only become a reality when they are faced with a planning application’. There is of course the idea that development plans are basically aspirational, and it is hard at times to get people interested in them. So it is only when an application is made that the reality hits of a development and then people start to focus on the actual development itself,” he said.
He agreed with the report’s statement, ‘that it would be of significant benefit to both planning applicants and local communities if the proposed legislation contained a requirement for a certain level of public consultation to be incorporated into the pre-planning consultation stage’.
The deputy said the committee also noted this would be of use to the applicant as well.
Deputy Pringle said he will be “submitting amendments to the committee stage to have proper community involvement in the planning process that would meet the requirements of the act and ensure that communities that will have these developments in them can be part of the process”.
The deputy also welcomed the ending of the Strategic Housing Development planning arrangements, but asked what they will be replaced with.
Deputy Pringle said: “The department has said Strategic Housing Development arrangements were to speed up the planning process for large-scale housing developments on land already zoned. But it seems to be clear from the contributions here today that it did not seem to lead to any extra delivery of houses but does seem to have created a market in the flipping of sites.
“We really have to get to the point that the political process stops seeing developers as the solution to the problems, because that’s really not the case. Developers are about maximising profit, and that’s what they use the process for,” he said.
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