Planning Guidelines report a non-event – Stanley
Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has claimed that today’s, Planning Guidelines Implementation Annual Report 2011 was a total non-event.
Deputy Stanley said the report contains nothing new and underlines the need for real, radical reform of local government.
“'This annual report was heralded as something new by Minster Jan O'Sullivan. The only thing new about it was the date. There is no evidence that the minster intends to challenge developer lead planning. In fact it is this very government that has slashed funding to local authorities by 84% making local government more dependent on commercial rates and developer levies.
“While the report is complementary to regional authorities, emphasising the importance of their role, it fails to mention that these authorities have no real power. In fact, under the current structures, many are no more than talking shops. This report clearly shows that we need radical reform of local government.
“To date local government reform has been an excuse for undermining local authorities. There is no evidence that this is about to change. Democracy has been eroded, with more and more power residing with the Department of Environment and unelected City and County managers who remain unaccountable.
“The power of planning and building regulations currently lies with developers. This has led to 18,000 empty houses with over 2,000 unfinished housing developments. But we now have an opportunity to change that. The proposed reform of local government by Minister Hogan offers a real opportunity to make local government accountable and give real power to regional authorities.
“Sinn Féin has proposed a programme of local government reform that is radical and solution based. We believe that good planning makes all the difference to community and family life. Responsible, ethical and sustainable planning, underpinned by equality considerations, is the right of all who live in Ireland.
“Property developers must not be allowed to build new housing developments without taking into account the need for provision of basic facilities and amenities. To thrive as sustainable, all communities require essential physical and social infrastructure.
“Sinn Féin has developed ‘Sustainable Communities Criteria’ based on the delivery of economic and social rights. All planning decisions must meet these criteria before earning the support of local authorities.
“These criteria include, a sufficient supply of social and affordable housing, safe water supply, adequate sewage systems, access to public transportation, employment, healthcare centres, childcare centres and schools. And reasonable access to local amenities including, shopping, public play and recreational facilities community and social centre and cultural amenities.”