20 Jul 2007

Yes, it was me who found the missing bale of cocaine off the Cork coast.

Finally some correspondence from Donegal – I’m interested to hear that Donegal planners are refusing to return calls to mobile phone numbers. If you want to talk to them you must leave a landline number.

Perhaps they’re concerned that making us talk on mobiles will cause greater brain damage than what it is they have to say? 

20 Jul 2007
In Dispatch No 10, I told you about a project I was involved in where the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government had lodged an appeal to An Bord Planala which, essentially, scuppered the much needed restoration of a listed building. The Department’s appeal was completely out of the blue – everyone involved in the project, including the local council, were very proud of it and expected it to go ahead. I personally was very disturbed to discover that the Department official who had brought the appeal to An Bord did so without first having visited the site. If you’re interested in what happened next, you might want to go back to Dispatch 10 and reread the article before following the link…
20 Jul 2007
Special Feature: Magadan: A City Transformed Environment Correspondent Frank McDonald visits the town they’re calling the new Tirana Once a town associated with the Gulags, Magadan – the jewel of the Okhotsk and gateway to the majestic Kolyma, has reinvented itself into a world class city full of open air cafes, Guggenheim Museums and high tech pedestrian bridges with thin white structural elements.
20 Jul 2007
It's quite long. If you don't have the time to read it all, you should at least read the opening and closing paragraphs.
20 Jul 2007
There are so many stories it’s hard to know where to begin. But we’ll give it a shot...
20 Jul 2007
6 Jul 2007

There’s all sorts of stuff going on in County Clare at the moment. Newly elected Mayor, Patricia McCarthy, has called for a full audit of planning decisions made in the county recently. It comes off the back of months of arguing in the council chambers where Councillors of all denominations have engaged in a pitched battle with Council officials (Manager and Director of Services, mainly) over who exactly controls the planning process. The real instigator is FF Cllr. PJ Kelly who has been quite relentless in his efforts and is backed up with a forensic knowledge of planning legislation and law (i.e. relevant court decisions).

The fracas, in my view, gets to the very core of what’s wrong with the planning system – elected local officials are given legislative powers to affect planning outcomes but are, at the same time, pushed aside by council personnel who see their own role in enforcing government guidelines as having greater importance. Something has to give.

TV when it used to be entertaining... 

I proudly present my finest work.(Before you all start getting smart, yes I did post it on YouTube myself but only because I wanted to show it to friends in the States.)  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpzIqAmvkHc

6 Jul 2007

I am in total agreement with that section of the book which revisits the debauchery that prevailed under the Haughey regime and criticizes the abuses we’ve all come to learn about.

However, it seems to me that for anyone critical of that Mafia Era, the next logical step would be to engage in debate about the form a suitable planning system might take.

To my mind, the authors don’t attempt to do this. Instead they leap straight from an accurate analysis of the corruption of the Haughey days to advocacy of a hard-to-grasp concept of sustainability which is propped by four oft-repeated arguments

That construction of family dwellings outside of villages and towns is not welcome

That Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway should merge to create a ‘counter-pole’ to Dublin

That local authorities should be completely subservient to central government in planning matters

That the role of An Taisce in the planning process is only for the good and completely beyond question

I think that, although these arguments may or may not be true, the authors haven’t made their case. At least not in this book. 

I agree with you, Colm, that everyone with an interest in planning should read ‘Chaos’ – for better or worse it represents the state of play on Irish environmental planning. And it shows up just how much more ground we have to cover.

I’d like to hear more comments.

Colm has agreed to write another review in the coming weeks which I’m looking forward to. If anyone else would like to have a go (on, say, recent IRDA publications?) please feel free.

6 Jul 2007
I seem to get into a lot of conversations with people regarding Frank McDonald and James Nix’s ‘Chaos at the Crossroads’, which was the Big Irish Planning Publication Sensation of two years ago. Some of you swear by it, some of you swear about it. Colm Cantillon mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that he was just finished reading it and he kindly agreed to write a review. Colm’s comments are after the link. So, here’s Colm’s
6 Jul 2007
Hi, all. I’m on my holidays, so forgive me for not making that much of an effort. It’s hard to be interested in Irish planning nonsense when your drifting in a blue pool in the warm, late evening sun… in a beautiful place… with lovely food… and balmy air… wide white sandy beaches… cool lounge music… bikinis… with lovely women in them… all the while knowing that the rest of you are freezing to death in your little woolly jumpers in the coldest summer on record since the dawn of global warming… oooh…
6 Jul 2007
FUTURE SHOCK!!! In the final episode of this landmark series, we come back from the realms of clichéd, post apocalyptic fantasy (crashing house prices, peak oil, etc.) and scare you to death about something that’s really going to change the face of Ireland. Blogging.