28 Feb 2008

This is the way I'm beginning to feel - me and Anne on the right. Rory and future daughter in-law on left. 
I read this in the Times:
'Almost a third of local authority planning divisions are operating without architectural services, a report has found… David O'Connor, Fingal County Council manager, said ‘not having architectural staff is causing some local authorities to miss out on good development opportunities’... ‘In some situations protected buildings can cause problems for local authorities that are looking to develop an area [… and having architects on board would be of assistance…].Seán Ó Laoire of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland [co-author of the report] said this countrywide inconsistency was not good practice and was a factor contributing to uneven quality in the built environment…

The report prompted me to pen a response to the Times, one of several I’ve whisked off to them in recent months, none of them published.

I refer to your coverage of the report entitled 'Model Architectural Services Structure for Local Authority' which appeared on February 19th. While I have the greatest respect for the experience and sincerity of the authors of the report I feel obliged to point out (slightly facetiously, I'll grant, but with only a very little exaggeration on my part) that there have been occasions in the recent past where local authorities, who happen to employ architects, were temporarily operating planning services without any planners.
During my time working as an architect within the local authority system, I felt unconvinced that, despite honest intent, my own contributions and those of my architect colleagues served any other purpose than to complicate the planning system even further. You see, 'progressive approaches to problem solving' and 'local authority culture' are phenomena which inhabit different space/time continuums.
The planning system in this country is so riddled with flaws that the presence or absence of architects from local authority planning offices will remain of no consequence at all unless the system itself is completely reformed in the way we're now coming to realise the health service needs reforming. Until that time, the taxpayer will continue to pour vast amounts of money into something which is of no benefit to them whatsoever.
Yours etc.

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