Archive for the 'Allotments' Category

New Planning Act will ensure rezoning abuses never happen again

 

I was very pleased to see that one of the last pieces of legislation the Oireachtas passed before the recess was the Planning Act. This legislation is a vital step in ensuring that the disastrous zoning policies which were followed by county and city councils across the country will never happen again.

One of the key drivers of the property boom was the ease with which big developers were getting huge amounts of unsuitable land rezoned for housing. Often these zonings were pushed through by councillors against the advice of professional planners. The new Planning Act will ensure that all planning decisions must be in accordance with national planning strategies, so irresponsible building can’t happen in the future.

The new law also offers relief for residents of new estates that have been left unfinished by unscrupulous or bankrupt developers. It amends the procedure for taking in charge of developments by local authorities so that the local authority must take in charge developments on foot of a request of the majority of the owners of a development. In addition, specific measures have been introduced to allow local authorities to take in charge unfinished developments where enforcement proceedings have failed. This has been introduced explicitly to address the legacy of ‘Ghost Estates’ and unfinished developments.

I’ve always argued that the abuse of the planning process and the property bubble that it created is one of the key factors behind the economic crisis that we are facing. The Green Party has always campaigned against bad planning, whether here in Dublin 15 or across the country. In passing the new Planning Act, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley is putting an end to many of the terrible practices that have gone on over the last 15 years. This law is a vital step in ensuring that the economic crisis we are experiencing will never happen again.

 I’ve included below a (long) summary of some of the key aspects of the new legislation.

Planning Act –Highlights of the New Legislation

The Planning & Development (Amendment) Act 2010 Bill represents a long overdue major legislative reform of our planning system which will prevent the major developer-led and bad planning mistakes of the past from happening in the future.  The new legislation establishes a plan-led and evidenced based planning system grounded in the principles of sustainable development and local democracy. The following are some of the key highlights of the new reform legislation:

Core Strategy – The centrepiece of the new legislation is the introduction of a requirement that each and every development plan prepared by local authorities must include an ‘Core Strategy’. The new ‘Core Strategy’ provision will require development plans to include of a statement of compliance demonstrating how the policies and objectives of the development plan are consistent with national and regional planning policy. This will ensure that all future zoning decisions and local planning policies are evidenced based; work towards the wider interests of the common good of the region and the State; maximise Exchequer investment in infrastructure and services; and grounded in the principles of sustainable development.

Consistency – Before now planning authorities only had to ‘have regard’ to national and regional planning policy in preparing development plans and local area plans. As a consequence of this flexible wording, during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era enormous lobbying allowed large tracts of land to be grossly overzoned at inappropriate locations resulting in significant long-term economic, social and environmental costs to the State. The new legislation removes this lacuna and will require that all development plans and local area plans ‘must be consistent with’ strategic national and regional planning policy. These new provisions implement the hierarchical planning system as envisaged under the Planning & Development Act 2000.

Oversight – The enactment of the Planning & Development Act 2002, which allowed new zoning to take place during the preparation of local area plans, introduced a loophole whereby local area plans were effectively outside of Ministerial oversight. As a consequence, local area plans in many cases supplanted city or county development plans as the primary planning policy document and became the preferred vehicle for introducing new zonings. This unsatisfactory situation has now been corrected. Local area plans must be consistent with the development plan and its ‘Core Strategy’ and the Minister now has full oversight over Regional Planning Guidelines, County/City Development Plans and Local Area Plans including the powers to intervene if considered necessary.

While the overall provisions of the legislation should limit future instances of Ministerial intervention in development plans, the revised s.31 allow for a full consultative process with local authorities and the public when the Minister is considering intervening in a development plan.

Regional Dimension: The new legislation introduces a much stronger strategic regional dimension to land-use planning and transportation policy implementation. The Regional Planning Guidelines are a critical link between national and local policy and to ensure efficient State investment in infrastructure and services. Under the new legislation, the relevant regional authority together with the National Transport Authority will have a formal role in the preparation of development plans and, in particular, the ‘Core Strategy’. While the decision to adopt, alter or vary a development plan or local area plan will always remain a reserved function of the local elected representatives, there will be a requirement to fully set out why it has been proposed to deviate from national and/or regional policy.

Alterations to Draft Plans: It will no longer be possible for last minute amendments to development plans or local area plans involving major policy changes, including additional zoning or delisting or protected structures, to be made without these changes having been subject to full public scrutiny. Furthermore, all amendments to regional planning guidelines, development plans and local area plans must be the subject of Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive at each stage of the process. This measure enhances local democracy and removes the unsatisfactory loophole whereby major last-minute changes could be made to a development plan or local area plan without prior public scrutiny. A similar provision for public scrutiny of all alterations to regional planning guidelines has also been included.

Preventing Sprawl:  The legislation enshrines in law the principles of sustainable settlement patterns and planning for the best use of land having regard to location, scale and density of new development to benefit from investment of public funds in transport infrastructure and public transport services i.e. preventing car-based suburban sprawl.

Climate Change & Energy: The Act, and significantly for the first time in Irish law, introduces a definition of ‘Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas’ and ‘Adaptation to Climate Change’.  All development plans must now include mandatory objectives to promote sustainable land-use and transportation strategies to reduce energy demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the necessity for adaptation to climate change.

Landscape Protection: The new legislation introduces a definition of ‘landscape’ in accordance with the European Landscape Convention (Florence Convention) and establishes a mechanism whereby the forthcoming National Landscape Strategy is to be integrated into all county and city development plans.

Habitats & Biodiversity: A major feature of the legislation is the full transposition and integration of the Planning System with the provisions of the EU Habitats & Birds Directives. As a result, all land-use planning policies and development management decisions must fully implement the very stringent protection afforded to designated European sites (Natura 2000), including potential indirect and cumulative impacts, through the preparation of a Natura Impact Statement. Furthermore, all development plans must also include measures for the protection and management of features of the landscape, such as traditional field boundaries, important for the ecological coherence of the Natura 2000 network and essential for the migration, dispersal and genetic exchange of wild species.

Water Quality: The legislation transposes the provisions of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) directly into planning law. All development plans must include mandatory objective to promote the compliance of land-use planning policies and objectives with the provisions of the relevant River Basin Management Plans. This is essential to achieve ‘Good’ status in all water bodies by 2015 in accordance with our obligations under the WFD.

Overarching Environmental Objectives: It is now a mandatory requirement that all Development Plan include a statement of overarching environmental objectives which demonstrates how the development objectives in the development plan are consistent, as far as practicable, with the conservation and protection of the environment.

Rights of Way: The legislation introduces new strengthened provisions for public rights of way including a mandatory objective requiring that all development plans mark them on at least one of the maps forming part of the development plan and by indicating their location on a list appended to the development plan,

Flooding: The legislation provides for the full integration of the Flood Risk Management Guidelines issued by the Minister in November 2009 into the planning system. As a result, all future zoning decisions, including the review of existing zonings, will be required to be the subject of a full Flood Risk Assessment and, where necessary, lands de-zoned or down-zoned as appropriate.

Allotments: The legislation introduces a definition of an ‘allotment’ and provides that local authorities may included objectives for thereserving land for use and cultivation as allotments.

Compliance with S.28 Guidelines: The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has issued a suite of best-practice guidance documents under S.28 of the Planning Acts including guidance on Flood Risk Management and Sustainable Urban Housing. All development plans and local area plans must include a statement setting out precisely how the policies and objectives of the relevant plan implements these guidelines.

Retention Planning Permission: The practice whereby an applicant could circumvent the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive by applying for retention has been outlawed. It will no longer be possible to apply for retention planning permission where an application would have required an EIS, would have been required to be screened for EIS, or required an Appropriate Assessment pursuant to the Habitats Directive.

Enforcement: The enforcement regime has been strengthened to require that following a Warning Letter an Enforcement Notice must be issued by the Planning Authority where there is no compelling reason to do otherwise. The relevant fines for carrying out unauthorised development have also been significantly increased. Furthermore, in respect of ongoing activities such as peat extraction and quarries, the seven year rule for taking enforcement action has been removed. In addition, it shall be a mandatory requirement that enforcement action is taken against quarries where there is no planning permission or there is a breach of conditions.

Substitute Consent & Quarries: A new ‘Substitute Consent’ process has been introduced to strictly manage development whereby, in some instances through no fault of their own, developers find themselves in a situation whereby they can no longer apply for retention planning permission due to the fact that the proposed development has been found to require an Environmental Impact Assessment or Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Directive. In such instances developers can only apply directly to An Bord Pleanala for leave to lodge an application for ‘Substitute Consent’ application to regularise the development.

By far the largest category of development, which is likely to require regularisation, are quarries. Many quarries expanded without the necessary consents and environmental assessments during the ‘Celtic Tiger’ era. A strictly time limited ‘sunset’ provision has been included in the legislation to allow quarries with a generally compliant planning record to regularise their activities. Again, applications for ‘Substitute Consent’ must be made directly to the An Bord Pleanala and full public participation provisions have been included. Quarries which commenced after 1964, never had planning permission or did not register under S.261 of the Planning Act 2000 will not be able to avail of this process. Once the ‘sunset’ provision has expired all quarries which do not comply in full with planning and environmental law will be unauthorised and strict new mandatory obligations of enforcement by local authorities have been provided to ensure such quarries immediately cease operations.

Taking in Charge: The legislation amends the procedure for taking in charge of developments by local authorities on foot of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission. From now on, the local authority must take in charge developments on foot of a request of the majority of the owners of a development. This measure will greatly assist those who are seeking to have common areas of developments taken in charge and who are frustrated by doing so by occupiers who are not owner-occupiers.

In addition, specific measures have been introduced to allow local authorities to take in charge unfinished developments where enforcement proceedings have failed. This is an explicit measure to address the legacy of ‘Ghost Estates’ and unfinished developments.

Protection of Wetlands: New measures have been introduced to remove the exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission land drainage works carried out under the Arterial Drainage Act where wetlands, marshes and callows are affected.

Exempted Development & Environmental Assessment: The new legislation makes it explicit that all development where it would require an Environmental Impact Assessment must apply for planning permission. This removes a loophole in the legislation whereby developments, which may have significant impacts on the environment, would in some circumstances not require planning permission.

Default Permission: The legislation removes the possibility of a default grant of planning permission being granted after the eight week planning application process as a consequence of an administrative error.

Schools & Broadband: New provisions have been introduced to allow local authorities to impose a financial levy new developments for the provision of schools and broadband infrastructure.

Children: Planning authorities are now obliged to seek observations from children or people representing children’s groups when advertising a review of a development plan or local area plan.

Material Contraventions: It shall be a requirement that where a planning authority intends to contravene its own development plan that adequate notice is given to all prescribed bodies and third parties. It will also be a requirement that the Manager of the local authority prepare a report as to how the contravention is consistent with national and regional planning policy and furnish it to the elected members.

Extension of Planning Permissions: Owing to the prevailing economic circumstances and, in particular, to ensure that planning permissions for renewable energy projects do not expire due to grid connection issues, applicants may apply for an extension of the life of a planning permission for a period of up to 5 years, subject to certainconditions, even where no works have been commenced.

Members of An Board Pleanala: The qualifying criteria for membership of  An Bord Pleanala has been extended to allow the Minister to appoint one member who has satisfactory experience, competence or qualifications as respects issues relating to the environment and sustainability

Press Release – Clarity needed on opening of Powerstown Road allotments – O’Gorman

08/03/10

Green Party Dublin West representative, Roderic O’Gorman has called on Fingal County Council to clarify when it will open the newly developed allotments on the Powerstown Road.

“I’ve written to Fingal County Council asking them to clarify when they will be opening the newly developed allotments on the Powerstown Road. In a reply to a question asked by Cllr Joe Corr in April of last year, the County Manager indicated that the only works that remained to be completed at the site was for the ESB to connect the electricity supply. Almost a year later, the site still isn’t being used, even though most of the infrastructure is in place”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“I realise that the Council is struggling with cutting costs at the moment. However, the reply from the County Manager stated that he then envisaged that the work would be completed in two months. The Council needs to clarify the nature of any extra work that needs to be done on the Powerstown site and give an estimation of when this will be completed and the allotments opened”.

“During the Local Elections campaign, I regularly received queries from people interested in renting allotments from the Council. There is an increasing demand for this facility and the Council needs to act to meet this”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Further Information

Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes confirmation on opening of Tyrrelstown allotments – renews call for more allotments to be provided in Dublin 15

Roderic at the entrance to the first phase of the new allotments at Tyrrelstown

Roderic at the entrance to the first phase of the new allotments at Tyrrelstown

13/04/09

Green Party Castleknock ward candidate, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the news that the new Fingal County Council allotments in Tyrrelstown will open in the next two months, but has also renewed his call for more allotments to be provided in the area.

“I had a question put to the County Manager at the April meeting of the Council regarding when the new allotments at Tyrrelstown will be open. The Manager has stated that the only works left to be completed is an ESB connection and that he anticipates this will be completed within two months”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.

“While this is positive news, it is disappointing that the new Tyrrelstown lands will only make a small dent in the overall waiting list for allotments in Dublin 15. Many of those who will get plots in Tyrrelstown are current allotment holders who have to move from the Cappogue site which has to close. As such, Tyrrelstown will only result in about 100 people on the waiting list getting allotments. Considering the last time I asked, there were over 300 people on the list, it looks like a lot of people are going to be left disappointed”.

“The Council originally intended to open a second phase at Tyrrelstown which would have provided more sites, but they now state that they will not do this because of budgetary constraints. While I realise that Fingal, along with local authorities across the country are facing financial pressure, I think that hitting the allotment budget is a false economy. I am regularly being asked by residents across Dublin 15 about the availability of allotments. Many people, including those recently unemployed, are looking at allotments as a means of growing their own food, saving money and having a healthy activity”.

“Recently, some private allotments have started up in Clonsilla. While I welcome any moves to increase the availability of allotments in Dublin 15, I do believe that it is essential that Fingal increases the number of sites that it provides. This is an issue that the Green Party have fought hard for on Fingal County Council and I will continue to press the County Manager on this if I am elected to the Council in June”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777
www.rodericogorman.com
www.getgrowing.ie

FINGAL COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING

WEDNESDAY 15TH APRIL 2009

ITEM NO. 12 – Tyrrlestown allotments

Question: Councillor J. Corr
“To ask the Manager when the new allotments at Tyrrelstown will be open, how many of these are reserved for current allotment holders vacating other sites in Dublin 15, what is the current waiting list for allotments in the Dublin 15 area and how many allotments could be provided in the second phase at Tyrrelstown?”

Reply:
The construction works have been completed with the exception of the electricity supply. We have engaged the ESB to carry out these works and we anticipate completion within the next two months.

All those who vacated allotments in Cappogue will be accommodated in the new development and approximately 100 allotments will be allocated to those on the waiting list.

There are no plans to construct a second phase at this location due to current budgetary constraints.

Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes Get Ireland Growing campaign

05/04/09

Green Party Castleknock ward candidate, Roderic O’Gorman has welcomed the launch of the Get Ireland Growing campaign by the Green Party. The campaign is designed to encourage people to grow their own food, whether at home, in allotments, in community gardens or at school.

“With the Get Ireland Growing campaign, the Green Party is encouraging people to grow their own food. This can be done in local authority or private allotments, community and school gardens, along with encouraging people to grow food at home”, stated Roderic O’Gorman.
Continue reading ‘Press Release – O’Gorman welcomes Get Ireland Growing campaign’

Press Release – O’Gorman calls on Council to immediately begin work on second phase of Tyrrelstown allotments

Roderic at the entrance to the first phase of the new allotments at Tyrrelstown

Roderic at the entrance to the first phase of the new allotments at Tyrrelstown

29/12/08

Green Party Castleknock ward candidate, Roderic O’Gorman, has called on Fingal County Council to immediately begin work on the second phase of the new allotment facility it is developing near Tyrrelstown. He made the call after the Council revealed that the current demand for allotments in the Dublin 15 area is already greater than the number of new allotments that will be provided in the first phase.

“I am calling on Fingal County Council to immediately start work on the second phase of the new land that is being provided for allotments near Tyrrelstown. I recently had a question put to the County Manager and in his response he stated that there are currently 365 persons on the waiting list to get allotments in the Dublin 15 area. The first phase of the new allotments in Tyrrelstown will only supply 250 places. Obviously, this means that there will be at least 115 persons who will be left disappointed at this time”, stated Roderic O’Gorman

“Since there is very clearly a significant demand for allotments within the Dublin 15 area, I think it is obvious that the Council should immediately commence with opening up the second phase of the allotments at Tyrrelstown. Currently there are workers on the first phase, fencing off the area, tilling the ground and laying in basic facilities. Surely it makes a lot more sense to prepare the second phase of the allotments now, rather than letting the workers leave and then calling them back in a few months time”.

“More and more people are looking to allotments as a way of providing themselves with healthy home grown food, particularly as much of the new housing built across Dublin 15 over the last 10 years does not have private gardens. Over the last year I have been contacted by a number of local people who are seeking to get an allotment. While I welcome the fact that Fingal County Council have created this new facility for allotment holders at Tyrrelstown, the Council must further demonstrate its commitment by beginning work on the second phase and making it available as soon as possible”.

“Myself and my Green Party colleagues on Fingal County Council have continuously highlighted the need to supply allotments. Indeed, it was a Green Party motion that reversed the policy the Council had adopted two years ago where it was no longer taking names onto the waiting list for allotments. We will continue to push this issue so that anyone living in Dublin 15 who wants to avail of an allotment will be able to do so”, concluded Roderic O’Gorman.

Ends

Further Information
Roderic O’Gorman: 087 417 9777

COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING

MONDAY, 8th December, 2008

ITEM NO. 9

ALLOTMENT WAITING LIST

Question: Councillor D. Healy

“To ask the Manager what is the current size of the waiting list for allotments in the Dublin 15 area and whether, in light of the large number of applicants, he will consider developing the second phase of the new allotments at Tyrrelstown/Powerstown?”

Reply:

There are currently 365 persons on the waiting list for allotments in the Dublin 15 area. Phase One of the new allotment scheme at Powerstown will provide for approximately 250 allotments.

Following the allocation of allotments in Phase 1, the waiting list will be further examined and consideration, if necessary, can be then be given to the provision of a second phase.