13 Aug 2007

As you may have already heard, the inaugural Kafka awards honouring excellence in Irish Planning Bureaucratic Obduracy will be presented at a star studded event later this year. There are some extremely strong candidates in all categories but before you cast your vote I just want to bring your attention to some wonderfully nuanced performances you might have missed. 

What about ‘Planning Catch 22’,  where the Local Authority issues a ‘dangerous building’ notification to the owner of a Protected Structure telling him the course of action he should immediately take in order to avoid a fine. Here’s the catch: the instruction the Council gives the owner is technically incorrect and when he suggests he do it the right way, he’s told he needs planning permission (but he's allowed do the wrong thing without planning...) 

And don’t forget ‘Legally Blond Council’, where the Local Authority spends tax payer’s money seeking the following information from a planning applicant: ‘What is to happen to 2 no. flower pots either side of the bottle bank?’

I have a soft spot for ‘Demolition’, the one where the Planning Authority (rightly) makes a citizen apply for retention for a large house he built without permission. The council turns him down. He appeals to An Bord Planala and is again refused. But, after the passage of a considerable amount of time during which you might have expected the applicant to have demolished his illegal abode, when neighbours call the Council to enquire about the lack of such demolition they are told ‘they might just let this one lie…’ Subtle and slow moving. 

Who says sequels are never as good as originals? Remember ‘Mezzanine’ in Dispatch 6 (Somthing that actually happened)? I swear to God, ‘Mezzanine 2’ is even better! You’ll recall that at the end of the original, the applicant was forced to lodge an application for retention of a small mezzanine in a house extension. Well, Mezzanine 2 picks it up just after the retention is granted and quickly gains pace when the Council’s enforcement people issue the applicant with a summons threatening him to take him to court. When the applicant points out that they can no longer chase him through the courts because he already has retention for the mezzanine, the Council agree to drop the matter. But (allegedly, etc.) only if the costs they incurred in issuing the summons (more than €1K) are paid. I’m predicting Mezzanine 3.

Exempted Development must be considered a good outside shot for Best Original Screenplay. It’s a small sweet movie, with a complex story line which may require two readings. It involves a conscientious architect who lodges a planning application for his client’s new garden shed. Because he wants to do the right thing by his client, he makes reference on his drawings to the fact that a small extension is intended to be built at the rear of the house, but that the extension is exempted development under the Planning Act. Tension mounts when the Council write back looking for REAMS of additional information on the extension. Which is exempt.    

If you’ve any other suggestions, keep them coming.

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