28 Feb 2008

In an article in the Irish Times earlier this week, Simon Coveney raised an interesting and important issue. In the case where people are trying to prove ‘local need’ in making applications for planning permission for houses in rural areas, they are frequently asked to supply the Council with quite personal information (why they’re doing this in the first place is beyond me – whoever thought it up deserves to be commemorated in the soon to be launched (by me) ‘Hall of Shame’) which, once received by the planners is scanned and put up on the internet for all the world to see. I’ve been involved in a couple of dodgy ones myself, but the Times quotes Coveney as saying that even personal bank account information has made its way onto planning websites and (this was also new to me) marketing firms were targeting people based on the information they were finding on planning websites.

Fingal County Council rather lamely said they’d ‘look into the matter, etc.’ but given the number of applications which they’d have to review, it might take them some time to sort the matter out. Well, Fingal, here’s my suggestion: make every scrap of  planning information you currently have up on the web unavailable starting immediately and only put it back up again after you’ve had some outside professionals do a proper job.

Meanwhile… Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown are now refusing to accept planning applications in the Sandyford area for anything other than the smallest developments because they’ve come to the belated conclusion that the existing infrastructure relating to water supply, waste treatment and traffic isn’t capable of dealing with future demand. In one way I’m kind of glad: I don’t have the words to describe how awful development in Sandyford has been in recent years – it’s in the same league of dreadfulness of Phoenix, Arizona, which is about the worst thing you can say about a planned urban environment. In another way, though, I’m wondering: how did Fingal not see this coming? If its not their job to make long term plans for future infrastructural requirements, who’s is it?  

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