1 Oct 2008
From Aiden O'Donovan
'... as most invalidations in planning applications arise from the display of site notices and interpretations of wordings on press notices why don’t the DOE solve this problem by having the council itself decide on the appropriate wording and press notice display and add the advertising cost at a fixed fee to the applicant? And also, as planning officers and area engineers are already inspecting the development sites, why don't theythemselves erect the notice? This would completely avoid the often vexatious removal of such notices by third parties .I was stunned to see on the  BBC’s 'Meet The Planners' program that in England the planning officer himself erected the public notice directly on a lamp post in front of the site !!'
Aiden, your suggestion might go some way to preventing a typical situation which occured lately and which led to an applicant writing a letter of frustration to a their local planning authority and which went as follows:
Good Morning ____ (senior local authority planning official)

I have been trying to reach you for the past few days in relation to an invalidation of application number ____.  I had reason to question the invalidation of this application with Ms ____ from your offices as there seemed to be a conflict between her reason for invalidation and our evidence of compliance.

We lodged the application on July 17th and one month later on August 13th Ms ____ visited the site and  "it was noted that the site notice was not signed or dated and not easily visible or legible by those using the public road", therefore the application was invalidated.  When I discussed this with my colleague who installed the notices I was assured that this was not the case and so I contacted your offices and subsequently emailed Ms ____ .

After spending several days trying to reach her, Ms_____ spoke to me on Tuesday but refused to discuss the issue and was very high handed in her approach. I asked about the situation when she visited the site as we are 100% positive that the site notice was signed and dated when they were installed and were located on the roadside as required as we have photographs to support that contention.  However Ms ____ said that she couldn't open the photographs and refused to discuss the problem, she would only say that she had to get out of her car in the rain to see the notice... [emphasis added]

... we need to know the reason (for the invalidation) in order to ensure that the notices are correct on re-submission, unfortunately it would appear that Ms ____ does not like to have her decisions questioned so I would appreciate it if you could assist me in establishing why the site notices which we thought to be compliant were invalidated.

I would also like to bring to your attention the problem that I encountered in trying to find your name and contact details.  I was told that the Council were not at liberty to divulge this information which strikes me as being highly unlikely.  I have been dealing with almost every Council in Ireland over the past decade and have never encountered this before.  When I questioned it I was told that it was because you received nasty emails from the general public in the past. However when I called your offices again this morning I got your email address without a problem. Unfortunately this suggests to me that your staff member was not keen for me to contact you.  I trust that this is not the case and I hope that you will be able to assist me in this matter.

Yours sincerely

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