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Malthus

The Planning System

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11156746

The Planning Appeals Commission has a backlog of 13 pending major cases but can only deal with one case at a time, its head has said.

This looks to me like a daft system. Surely Spain have it almost right, here's the rules, build what you like but if it doesn't meets the rules stated we will knock it down and send you the bill.

ps if a certain minister had grown a pair earlier we would have a nice new sports stadium instead of a sh1t recycling power station :ph34r:

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11156746

This looks to me like a daft system. Surely Spain have it almost right, here's the rules, build what you like but if it doesn't meets the rules stated we will knock it down and send you the bill.

ps if a certain minister had grown a pair earlier we would have a nice new sports stadium instead of a sh1t recycling power station :ph34r:

Can't comment on Spain but I was thinking earlier how do we compare with a county in England. I do think there is a political (lack of) confidence thing that impedes decisions here.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11156746

This looks to me like a daft system. Surely Spain have it almost right, here's the rules, build what you like but if it doesn't meets the rules stated we will knock it down and send you the bill.

ps if a certain minister had grown a pair earlier we would have a nice new sports stadium instead of a sh1t recycling power station :ph34r:

I agree the system is not right, but at least there is some confirmation that what you want to do is passed. I thought in Spain the problem was more that the rules are not clear and there are regional rules and national rules. I don't like the idea of such a huge investment that can be destroyed by someone with a different interpretation or (corrupt) agenda.

The basic problem is that the gov't expects to increase the population without damaging the countryside. The 2 ideas are not compatible without constantly increasing density, which is a bad thing IMO. I think if you own land you should be allowed to do mostly want you want with it. Which in general you are, but this green belt thing is just wrong.

Personally I prefer the idea of (possibly) environmentally friendly power station, but don't know the details. At the end of the day if you are a NIMBY my answer would be if you don't want the thing they want to build don't create the requirement. eg if you don't want the new housing estate beside your nice country village, then don't have any children, or if you don't want a power station don't use any power or create your own. Seems like a reasonable concept to resolve NIMBY disputes.

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NI should operate under the same rules as any region of the UK but it is very different.

In the UK we have regional power distributed to the councils. The councillors make the decisions. Here despite spending £10's of millions on it the politicians voted not to cut their numbers. So we have twice the number of councillors as any region in the UK (per pop) and remember whilst we have more they have largely no power.

Therefore they become professional objectors. They object to almost every planning application. I once sought the help of one with a log jammed application. He came to a meeting and spoke very well about moving the application forward. I was very pleased. The planning officer later showed me a letter of objection, on behalf of local residents that he had also sent in to the very same application. I don't know if he actually knew this and would like to think he didn't, but the ridiculous claims in his letter were the very things that were delaying the application and the delays he so eloquently give out about at the meeting.

There is also a great fear here of making a decision. No body wants to make one.

In the UK you get a decision within 3 to 6 months. Here it takes 3 years. And costs a complete fortune. To avoid making a decision, at any level they 'request further information', then further information again. it is maddening and I wonder will NAMA put up with this 3rd world Red Tape system when it comes up here.

I have long said that what saves (a decreasing few) of the developers up here from going completely over board was our planning system, in particular the roads service and the env agency. If we had of been able to get through the applications in say a year we would have geared up massively. However on the other hand there would have been alot more houses build what would have cooled the market.

We have a mess of a system and it really takes someone like O'Leary to spell it out.

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NI should operate under the same rules as any region of the UK but it is very different.

In the UK we have regional power distributed to the councils. The councillors make the decisions. Here despite spending £10's of millions on it the politicians voted not to cut their numbers. So we have twice the number of councillors as any region in the UK (per pop) and remember whilst we have more they have largely no power.

Therefore they become professional objectors. They object to almost every planning application. I once sought the help of one with a log jammed application. He came to a meeting and spoke very well about moving the application forward. I was very pleased. The planning officer later showed me a letter of objection, on behalf of local residents that he had also sent in to the very same application. I don't know if he actually knew this and would like to think he didn't, but the ridiculous claims in his letter were the very things that were delaying the application and the delays he so eloquently give out about at the meeting.

There is also a great fear here of making a decision. No body wants to make one.

In the UK you get a decision within 3 to 6 months. Here it takes 3 years. And costs a complete fortune. To avoid making a decision, at any level they 'request further information', then further information again. it is maddening and I wonder will NAMA put up with this 3rd world Red Tape system when it comes up here.

I have long said that what saves (a decreasing few) of the developers up here from going completely over board was our planning system, in particular the roads service and the env agency. If we had of been able to get through the applications in say a year we would have geared up massively. However on the other hand there would have been alot more houses build what would have cooled the market.

We have a mess of a system and it really takes someone like O'Leary to spell it out.

have to agree with most of what you say

but it is not true that all planning decisions on the mainland take no more than 6 months

i knowc of one in scotland which is well into its third year!

rock on!

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Therefore they become professional objectors. They object to almost every planning application.

I think you're completely wrong VI. Most planning applications sail past the local councils. Have a look for yourself at the small number of deferred applications: http://apps.planningni.gov.uk/council_schedules/ In addition, over 90 per cent of applications are consistently approved. See for yourself over the last decade: http://www.planningni.gov.uk/index/tools/about-statistics/common-eplanning-stats-publications.htm

The massive problems of the NI system to my mind are the time delays (in development management and development plan making) and the uncertainty in how the planners will interpret policy as they never seem to be consistent. It's almost maladministration on a massive scale when they produce so many policies and plans at great public expense and then consistently ignore them.

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The basic problem is that the gov't expects to increase the population without damaging the countryside. The 2 ideas are not compatible without constantly increasing density, which is a bad thing IMO. I think if you own land you should be allowed to do mostly want you want with it. Which in general you are, but this green belt thing is just wrong.

Personally I prefer the idea of (possibly) environmentally friendly power station, but don't know the details. At the end of the day if you are a NIMBY my answer would be if you don't want the thing they want to build don't create the requirement. eg if you don't want the new housing estate beside your nice country village, then don't have any children, or if you don't want a power station don't use any power or create your own. Seems like a reasonable concept to resolve NIMBY disputes.

Where have you been? PPS21 got rid of green belts.

You don't have to go too far to see what happens when you can "do mostly want you want" with you land...and be paying the consequences for a very long time... :(

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Where have you been? PPS21 got rid of green belts.

You don't have to go too far to see what happens when you can "do mostly want you want" with you land...and be paying the consequences for a very long time... :(

I certainly agree that the planning system needs reforming - and Poots has announced some measures that, if implemented should go a long way to helping the matter. But I think the question is more fundamental. We seem to have an unhealthy disrespect for authority here - a kind of frontier mentality that goes "its my land and I ought to be able to do what I like with it". Despite being patent nonsense, it makes the whole planning process deeply adversarial and painfully slow. The process isn't helped by a judicial system that will grant leave for judicial review at the drop of a hat!!

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I certainly agree that the planning system needs reforming - and Poots has announced some measures that, if implemented should go a long way to helping the matter. But I think the question is more fundamental. We seem to have an unhealthy disrespect for authority here - a kind of frontier mentality that goes "its my land and I ought to be able to do what I like with it". Despite being patent nonsense, it makes the whole planning process deeply adversarial and painfully slow. The process isn't helped by a judicial system that will grant leave for judicial review at the drop of a hat!!

If only Poots hadn't put the RPA on the back-burner we might actually get to a system that is a lot more democratic and transparent. It would certainly become a lot easier to pinpoint who individually is to blame (and equally who should get a pat on the back when they get it right). This definitely won't be a panacea, however, and in the short term could actually be quite damaging but there's only one way yo learn/improve.

Do you know how much a judicial review might cost? I bet you can count the number of JRs on planning issues on one hand in NI in any one year, in spite of the huge number of smaller, local cases that would probably be successful if they weren't so damn expensive to take. For all the major flaws in planning in the South their third party right of appeal system at least offers equitable ground between developers and third parties in challenging decisions on planning (rather than legal/administrative) grounds. They also have a much speedier default decision system (8 weeks) to counter-balance potential time delays.

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I certainly agree that the planning system needs reforming - and Poots has announced some measures that, if implemented should go a long way to helping the matter. But I think the question is more fundamental. We seem to have an unhealthy disrespect for authority here - a kind of frontier mentality that goes "its my land and I ought to be able to do what I like with it". Despite being patent nonsense, it makes the whole planning process deeply adversarial and painfully slow. The process isn't helped by a judicial system that will grant leave for judicial review at the drop of a hat!!

That's my point, we need a list of sensible rules with no special cases. Break the rules and the building gets knocked down.

Why would any business be bothered building here with the current system, eg if I had ran John Lewis I would tell Northern Ireland PLC to sod off ;)

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Mrazik is right about the relative lack of JR-ing, evidenced by the fact that NI only has one QC with a full time specialism in planning (Bill Orbinson).

We should also be aware that in the bubble years the whole system was drowning in a sea of bungalows as everybody with a piece of land stuck in apps for a ******** development. Often the app would be presented in a basically incompetent fashion by an agent who would then take ages to sort it out.

To be fair to the planning service they have introduced a fast track system for non contentious apps which had brought down waiting times.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about holding the Republic's system up as an exemplar. Yes, it's more efficient and democratic but a lot of terrible decisions were made on the back of populist idiocy, hence the massive amount of development land which is now having to be dezoned. And that's before we get to the small matter of councillors who are also EAs.

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Mrazik is right about the relative lack of JR-ing, evidenced by the fact that NI only has one QC with a full time specialism in planning (Bill Orbinson).

We should also be aware that in the bubble years the whole system was drowning in a sea of bungalows as everybody with a piece of land stuck in apps for a ******** development. Often the app would be presented in a basically incompetent fashion by an agent who would then take ages to sort it out.

To be fair to the planning service they have introduced a fast track system for non contentious apps which had brought down waiting times.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about holding the Republic's system up as an exemplar. Yes, it's more efficient and democratic but a lot of terrible decisions were made on the back of populist idiocy, hence the massive amount of development land which is now having to be dezoned. And that's before we get to the small matter of councillors who are also EAs.

I agree with you PJ re the ROI planning system and have posted this before which gives some strong opinions of what went on: http://www.nuim.ie/nirsa/research/documents/WP59-A-Haunted-Landscape.pdf. However, I think as long as the Greens have the key planning portfolio they will make radical changes to how the system operates and will undoubtedly learn from their mistakes. Will we in the dreary North?

Your comments about councillors who are also EAs is interesting because there would also appear to me to have been a bit of a similar nexus here (won't name names). In fact, contrary to what BelfastVI said my observation of many local councillors, albeit virtually powerless, was that they often used whatever position they had to shove through developments even him in public supporting objectors.

I've also wondered about how many estates agents have large property portfolios themselves and use their gatekeeper position in the market to try and control supply, demand and price movements... :ph34r:

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If only Poots hadn't put the RPA on the back-burner we might actually get to a system that is a lot more democratic and transparent. It would certainly become a lot easier to pinpoint who individually is to blame (and equally who should get a pat on the back when they get it right). This definitely won't be a panacea, however, and in the short term could actually be quite damaging but there's only one way yo learn/improve.

Do you know how much a judicial review might cost? I bet you can count the number of JRs on planning issues on one hand in NI in any one year, in spite of the huge number of smaller, local cases that would probably be successful if they weren't so damn expensive to take. For all the major flaws in planning in the South their third party right of appeal system at least offers equitable ground between developers and third parties in challenging decisions on planning (rather than legal/administrative) grounds. They also have a much speedier default decision system (8 weeks) to counter-balance potential time delays.

Oh yeah, JR's cost a wedge of cash and there aren't too many each year but there doesn't need to be as the implications of just one review can be far reaching - I think I can recall one recent case where a tactical JR by a developer stymied the preparation of - I think - 2 developments plans. I think their argument was that that proper environmental assessment of the plans could not be carried out because EHS was not an 'independent' body and therefore incapable of properly scrutinising the plans. Certainly the first developer I ever heard to have the environment at heart!!The point is tactical JR's like this place plan preparation into complete limbo - and without an up-to-date plan the whole development management process becomes slower and more difficult as development decisions are determined by way of appeal rather than in accordance with an up-to-date plan. Third party appeals? I heard a well known consultant calling for them the other day - I wonder why he would have an interest in their introduction?

Edited by HPCwhen?

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Oh yeah, JR's cost a wedge of cash and there aren't too many each year but there doesn't need to be as the implications of just one review can be far reaching - I think I can recall one recent case where a tactical JR by a developer stymied the preparation of - I think - 2 developments plans. I think their argument was that that proper environmental assessment of the plans could not be carried out because EHS was not an 'independent' body and therefore incapable of properly scrutinising the plans. Certainly the first developer I ever heard to have the environment at heart!!The point is tactical  JR's like this place plan preparation into complete limbo - and without an up-to-date plan the whole development management process becomes slower and more difficult as development decisions are determined by way of appeal rather than in accordance with an up-to-date plan. Third party appeals? I heard a well known consultant calling for them the other day -  I wonder why he would have an interest in their introduction?

I belive you might be talking about Mr Sweeney who had the top boys from Carson McDowell on the case.

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I think you're completely wrong VI. Most planning applications sail past the local councils. Have a look for yourself at the small number of deferred applications: http://apps.planningni.gov.uk/council_schedules/ In addition, over 90 per cent of applications are consistently approved. See for yourself over the last decade: http://www.planningni.gov.uk/index/tools/about-statistics/common-eplanning-stats-publications.htm

The massive problems of the NI system to my mind are the time delays (in development management and development plan making) and the uncertainty in how the planners will interpret policy as they never seem to be consistent. It's almost maladministration on a massive scale when they produce so many policies and plans at great public expense and then consistently ignore them.

Yes the planning reports will say that up to 80% of applications are processed within 6 mths. However they are mostly the minor amendments, extensions etc. The major developments for 20 houses or more will hake 2, 3 or more years. In the UK the average turnaround time for these kind of applications is much shorter and have been for some time.

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Mrazik is right about the relative lack of JR-ing, evidenced by the fact that NI only has one QC with a full time specialism in planning (Bill Orbinson).

We should also be aware that in the bubble years the whole system was drowning in a sea of bungalows as everybody with a piece of land stuck in apps for a ******** development. Often the app would be presented in a basically incompetent fashion by an agent who would then take ages to sort it out.

To be fair to the planning service they have introduced a fast track system for non contentious apps which had brought down waiting times.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about holding the Republic's system up as an exemplar. Yes, it's more efficient and democratic but a lot of terrible decisions were made on the back of populist idiocy, hence the massive amount of development land which is now having to be dezoned. And that's before we get to the small matter of councillors who are also EAs.

There are plenty of Planning QC who make a fortune out of the mess of a system we have. Stewart Beatie for one and there are many more. William only specialised in Planning as he admits he doesn't know too much about anything else.

The problem with the ROI system is the third party appeal system. You have a plan led system where you know you will get housing if it is zned as housing, its only down to design and capacity etc. You get a decision with 6 mths (yes or no). Then you have to wait for the almost certain 3rd party objection. (who usually call you the next day to start the terms of their payments).

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That's because in England there is a long established performance indicator system with applications split into major and minor with corresponding targets for decision times (8 and 13 weeks if I remember correctly). I would hasten to add that having a good turnaround time for applications is a good thing, but that much of what eventually gets passed here, mightn't in England, especially in the countryside...

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The problem with the ROI system is the third party appeal system.

No. The massive over-zoning of land and construction of housing (ghost estates), building in the flood plain and other innappropriate locations and seemingly rampant corruption was the problem, not 3rd party rights of appeal. :angry:

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No. The massive over-zoning of land and construction of housing (ghost estates), building in the flood plain and other innappropriate locations and seemingly rampant corruption was the problem, not 3rd party rights of appeal. :angry:

I agree totally there was massive over zoning of land in the ROI. But that's not what we are talking about. Even here the area plans are a completely differant process. What we are talking about is the planning process, namely the length of time it takes to get a yes or no out of the system. In the UK that (for medium to large schemes) would take about 6 mths. In the ROI about the same, but them you have to fight a Third Party Appeal or sort them some other way. In NI the process for a similar scheme will take two to three years.

The over zoning is a real problem in the ROI but a separate issue to what we are discussing.

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That's because in England there is a long established performance indicator system with applications split into major and minor with corresponding targets for decision times (8 and 13 weeks if I remember correctly). I would hasten to add that having a good turnaround time for applications is a good thing, but that much of what eventually gets passed here, mightn't in England, especially in the countryside...

I for one agree with protecting the Greenbelt. The changes came in too late and have now, slightly been watered down to allow one plot every 10 years. Previously there was up to 5,000 new houses built every year in the countryside (almost half the total newbuild). That will reduce once the existing approvals get build and thereafter should be a fraction of what they once were.

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