Community engagement in Ireland’s planning & appeals process 

Article from Irish Examiner setting out timelines and issues re community input to planning applications and appeals in the case of the Indaver Ringaskiddy incinerator project. Highlights issues in the decision making planning process, especially in relation to projects with the potential for environmental impact, and the problems in terms of Aarhus convention & access to justice particularly regarding costs. Prof. Aine Ryall of University College Cork has written extensively about Aarhus. Interesting to note that the 2017 Local Area Plan has rezoned the site for educational uses to complement the adjacent Maritime College & Research Centre. 

The decision by An Bord Pleanala was due this week, after six deferments but looks like the date has been put back again.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/viewpoints/analysis/reflecting-on-the-battle-against-cork-harbour-incinerator-plan-461414.html 

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New tax on undeveloped zoned land in Ireland?

There is a shortage of housing in Ireland, particularly in Dublin.  Few residential developments (estates) have been built during the years of the economic recession.  However, now that the economy is improving and the future looks brighter, the Irish government is concerned about reports that land which has been zoned for residential development is not being brought forward by owners and developers who appear to be waiting for a rise in the market price for their finished product.

The General Scheme of the Planning and Development (No. 1) Bill 2014 has been published, which sets out the likely contents of the new Planning Act. The proposals include allowing Councils to apply a vacant site levy on owners of vacant and under-utilised urban sites (zoned and serviced and therefore ready to go in terms of planning application), identified in County and City Development Plans and Local Area Plans.

While evidence that land is being held back in anticipation of market improvements is mainly anecdotal, the Department of Finance issued a consultation paper seeking views on whether new tax measures, in particular a ‘vacant site levy’ can and should be used to encourage new house building as soon as possible.

The consultation runs from 16th February until 8th May 2015 and further details are available from the Department of Finance website:

http://www.finance.gov.ie/sites/default/files/Finance_Zoned_Serviced_Land_Public%20Consultation_0.pdf

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Changing the ‘window’ in Irish Georgian Architecture

A letter in the Irish Times today from Patrick Guinness, President of the Irish Georgian Society, highlighted some of the issues that may be encountered while dating architecture.

Mr Guinness’ letter relates to a new government funding intiative trial (The Living City Initative), which aims to both improve the structures themselves, many of which, in spite of being classified as ‘protected structures’ are in poor repair, while encouraging owners to reside within the city.  The two trial cities are Limerick and Waterford.

He states “…while the Georgian period relates to the reigns of Kings George I-IV (1714-1830), a significant proportion of houses designed and built in the Georgian style of architecture in Ireland (including many structures in Limerick and Waterford) were constructed after 1830. Irish Georgian architecture could, therefore, more properly be considered to include buildings in the Georgian idiom constructed up until 1860.”

It can take some time for ‘fashions’ to travel.  Having studied architecture history in the UK, on my return to Ireland I found that, although styles of architecture in the Georgian and Victorian periods were reasonably faithfully adopted in Dublin and other Irish cities, it appears to have taken some time for the new style to be adopted each time.  I therefore tend to allow a window of 30-40 years.   I am happy to see that Mr Guinness feels a similar timescale is appropriate and I have been correct in my assumptions.

The letter in full can be accessed here:  http://www.irishtimes.com/debate/letters/widening-the-georgian-window-1.1323496#.UUBrRNIE95k.twitter

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