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28 Jan 2022

Donegal TD wants early public consultation for large-scale residential developments

Pringle will call for more community involvement in the pre-planning process

More community involvement needed in pre planning process

A Donegal TD has criticised Government planning legislation for not requiring early public consultation in relation to large-scale residential developments.

Deputy Thomas Pringle (Ind.) said: “As I said in committee stage as well, it’s important that the communities the developments are taking place in would be able to get involved in the process at a very early stage. And I think that would be of benefit to developers as well as local communities, in that it would remove a lot of misinformation that’s about in relation to developments.”

The deputy addressed the Dáil on Wednesday evening on Planning and Development (Amendment) (Large-scale Residential Development) Bill 2021.

Deputy Pringle said he had had brought forward amendments to the bill that would have brought community organisations into pre-planning consultation meetings in relation to large-scale residential developments in their area.

Deputy Pringle disagreed with Minister Darragh O’Brien’s suggestion that it could be difficult to identify appropriate community organisations for consultation.

Deputy Pringle said: “I don’t believe it’s difficult for local authorities to identify community organisations in relation to the communities that they are well experienced in dealing with and working with, and I don’t think that would be beyond the realm of possibility that it could be done.”

The deputy also took issue with the minister’s contention that the legislation addresses the matter, where it states that planning authorities may hold those consultation meetings.

Deputy Pringle said: “That’s the problem I see with this, is that the local authority ‘may’ do it. There’s no onus on the local authority ‘to’ do it, so it’s open to the discretion of the local authority whether they actually do this or not, and and ultimately I think that’s the problem with the whole thing.

“Because, as it has been said by other members, these are large developments and will have a big impact on the communities that they are in, so I think that does need to be taken on board,” Deputy Pringle said.

The minister also said that there are cases where ad hoc pre-planning consultations are taking place, but Deputy Pringle said, “That’s what we’re talking about here, but we’re talking about doing it on a structured level and in a way that it has to take place.”

Deputy Pringle had raised these issues in the Dáil last month, when he also brought up a statement from the committee report on the bill that said, “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 report also noted this would be of use to the applicant as well.

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