Planners ‘inconsistent’ in granting permission, says RIAI

Planners are inconsistent with some applicants waiting months for pre-planning meetings, says the architect’s lobby group in Ireland.

In this article we cover:

  • Overview of planning system to build or extend a house
  • Issues in the planning system in Ireland that delay building a house
  • Pre-planning meetings: delays
  • Issues with building regulations
  • Call for establishing supervisory bodies

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has published a report blaming ‘lengthy timelines and complex administrative processes’ for delays in the delivery of new homes.

The  RIAI Housing Timeline Report, published today (19th September 2017) is based on interviews with principals of large architectural practices who were asked to account for the time spent on each stage of development, from initial project inception to final site completion.

The findings showed that the pre-construction stage was most problematic with some applicants waiting three months for pre-planning meetings.

Limited resources, inconsistency in the interpretation of regulations by officials, slow provision of public utilities, as well as a lengthy statutory planning process, were cited as hurdles to the smooth running of house building projects.

For example, there is currently a lag between the expiry of the old County Development or Local Area Plans and publication of the new Plans. House building projects that start during this period of limbo are, as a result, left waiting for the new Plans before designs can proceed.

Pre-planning meetings

Pre-planning meetings are helpful for self-builders to present their drawings to the authorities and get feedback on them, prior to lodging a planning application. “However, in some cases, an applicant may wait up to three months for a preliminary pre-planning meeting,” noted the report.

The RIAI identified that pre-planning meetings currently were not standardised, as different planners would attend different meetings and that no formal minutes were produced by the authority. The latter would help homeowners and designers better respond to the feedback given at the pre-planning meeting, and incorporate these changes in their planning application.

Call for establishing new supervisory bodies

Technical Guidance Documents (TGDs) were also a bone of contention. The RIAI argues they are “open to wide interpretation, even within the same Planning Authority”. The architects’ representative body suggests that more specific directions for each of the TGDs are needed. To achieve this, a National Referrals Body could be established to which questions on interpretations of building regulations could be sent.

The RIAI also says there’s an issue with applications not always being determined on the merit of the development and that some are rejected because of administrative errors.

The representative body suggests planning applications be received by one central agency, on behalf of all planning authorities, to ensure applications are valid and that all administrative tasks are facilitated prior to being sent to the Planning Authority for decision.

For more on the RIAI’s proposals click here

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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