Tag Archives: planning


This morning.

Croke Park, Dublin.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Construction Conference sponsored by the Sunday Business Post where he spoke to delegates of the Construction Industry Federation.

Via The Irish Times:

Mr Varadkar told the conference  the Government would publish a new planning bill shortly.

He acknowledged that it was frustrating for builders and planners to see good projects end up facing sometimes “vexatious” judicial reviews in the High Court.

“That’s something, in my view, that’s going to have to change and this bill will change it,” the Taoiseach pledged.

Good times.

Varadkar promises law to block ‘vexatious’ planning challenges (Irish Times)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

90348357Gerard Convie

Following a campaign spearheaded by Village magazine (fair play, etc)…

The government will appoint a barrister to investigate claims made by Gerard Convie, a former planner in Donegal, about the system of planning permissions in the county.


The former civil servant has made several attempts to have his allegations investigated by the Department of the Environment.

The Irish Independent can reveal that a senior counsel will travel to Donegal to investigate the allegations, at the request of Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Mr Kelly made the decision to appoint the barrister after examining the allegations and on the advice of the Office of the Attorney General.

The barrister will interview Mr Convie and council officials as part of the probe.

Among the cases highlighted by Mr Convie are a petrol station which operated for over 10 years despite never having secured planning permission.

Among the cases highlighted by Mr Convie are a petrol station which operated for over 10 years despite never having secured planning permission.

Whistleblower planning claims set to be probed (Niall O’Connor, Independent.ie)

Previously: The Planning Whistleblower

Village Preservation Society

(Photocall Ireland)


The Edge and his planned Malibu cliff top ‘compound’

“The Edge submitted plans for the five houses separately, under separate names, which CCC staff originally took as an attempt to skirt environmental rules, according to the LA Times.

They also found that the project “would scar a steep, undeveloped ridgeline visible from much of the coastline, cause extensive geological disturbance and destroy environmentally sensitive native vegetation.”

A few months later, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy suddenly switched their stance on the development from con to neutral after The Edge gave them $750,000 in cash, $250,000 worth of work by a consultant, and 97 acres of land for conservation.

Then, in 2012, The Edge’s “extensive team” started lobbying for a pro-development, anti-environment state bill that would’ve helped clear the way for the project. “

Good times.

U2’s The Edge Could Be Allowed to Build Five-Mansion Clifftop Compound in Malibu (Curbed LA)

Thanks Mark Malone

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.22.20

The Irish Times reports:

“Cheating and giving false information was “endemic” in planning during the boom time in Kerry, An Taisce has claimed. Landscaping conditions attached to planning were also regularly ignored, the heritage body has told Kerry County Council.

In a submission to the draft county development plan for 2015-2021, An Taisce claims that farm families enjoyed favouritism in planning, with less stringent conditions than others.

“An Taisce is aware of cases where the house was sold to an outsider, despite having an occupancy clause for a particular person,” Dr Catherine McMullin, An Taisce’s honorary planning officer for the region, said.

Cheating in planning was ‘endemic’ in Kerry, says An Taisce (Irish Times)


Thomas Street, Dublin, designated ‘ACA’, an Architectural Conservation Area by Dublin City Council council

Dublin City Council has extended permission for a modern office block on the site of two Georgian houses on Thomas Street, against the advice of its own senior planner and the Dublin Civic Trust.
…The Civic Trust said the decision to allow the development was frustrating as it “rendered meaningless” the conservation status given to the street.
There seems to be an attitude here that any development is better than none, even in a historic streetscape such as Thomas Street,” said Graham Hickey, conservation officer with the trust.”

Council Permits Demolition Of Dublin Georgian Houses Against Advice (Olivia kelly, Irish Times)


Gerard Convie (top) and (below) from left: editor of Village Magazine, Michael Smith, Ian Lumley from An Taisce and Mr Convie in Buswells Hotel today.

A press conference held by Village magazine earlier to highlight allegations made by Gerard Convie, a former planner in Donegal, about the system of planning permissions in the county.

Allegations [see link below] the Department of Environment and its outgoing Minister Phil Hogan dismissed as “spurious”.

Michael Smith of Village writes:

“There needs to be awareness that impropriety in planning was not limited to Dublin; and impropriety in Donegal not limited to Garda. Gerard Convie, a very senior insider in the planning department, has made serious allegations about the system of planning permissions in Donegal. It is a scandal that the Department of the Environment said he had failed to produce evidence of wrongdoing. Though at considerable public expense this view was eventually repudiated, how it arose must be investigated – and officials and the Minister [Phil Hogan]  held to account. The repudiated view is directly analogous to the view the Department of Justice took on the respective credibilities of the Garda and its whistleblowers.. The Department must stop prevaricating and announce a proper review by a barrister into impropriety in Donegal planning under the 2000 Planning and Development Act (s255)…”

Blowing the Whistle so hard on Donegal even the people who haven’t been following so far, will hear it. (Village)

Previously: Spurious, You Say?

(Laura Hutton/Photocall ireland)

hogan2[Environment Minister Phil Hogan]

You may recall how, in June 2010, following a series of complaints, the then former Environment Minister John Gormley announced that there would be inquiries – and appointed inspectors to carry out those inquiries – into alleged planning irregularities.

The inquiries were to take place at seven local authorities – Dublin and Cork City Councils and Carlow, Galway, Cork, Meath and Donegal County Councils.

However, just months after the formation of the current Government, following in 2011 Environment Minister Phil Hogan terminated the inquiries.

Instead, an internal review by the Department of the Environment was published in June 2012.

This internal review – published by Labour’s Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Jan O’Sullivan – concluded that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

It should be noted Carlow – which is Mr Hogan’s constituency – was named as the ‘the most serious of the cases’ in the review and that if it weren’t for 120 recommendations being implemented following a 2010 review by John Quinlivan, former Carlow Town Clerk and Louth County Manager, an investigation would be required into Carlow County Council, even though it stated not all of the recommendations had been delivered upon, at the time of the review’s investigation.

But what about Donegal?


Gerard Convie, who worked in Donegal County Council as a senior planner for 24 years before he resigned in 2007, provided the review with 20 cases of what he claimed was evidence of irregularities at Donegal County Council.

And, after the review concluded there was no proof of wrongdoing, he went to the High Court alleging that the review was inadequate, ‘deeply disturbing’ and failed to address his complaints.

His action resulted in the High Court quashing the review’s section on Donegal County Council’s planning department; the Department of the Environment apologising to Mr Convie and him being awarded €25,000.

This High Court decision occurred on June 14, 2013.

On foot of it, Ms O’Sullivan announced:

“I am today announcing my intention to appoint independent planning consultants under Section 255 of the Planning and Development Acts to conduct an independent assessment of planning procedures and practices in the six other local authorities that were the subject of the Planning Review Report.”

The current issue of Village magazine – which gives a thorough breakdown of Mr Convie’s complaints – is reporting that the material concerning Donegal and put forward by Mr Convie was sent to the Attorney General Máire Whelan for direction and it’s understood she has now sent this on to the Environment Minister Phil Hogan with the Environment Department expected to release its review before the summer.

Meanwhile, while in Opposition, Mr Hogan did an interview with Tony Lowes, for Village magazine, in which he was asked if he supported Mr Gormley’s planned inquiries into the seven authorities. From that interview:

Tony Lowes: “Do you support the investigations that Mr Gormley set up for certain councils, including Dublin City and Carlow?”

Phil Hogan: “Spuriously mostly.”

Lowes: “If you became Minister would you allow this process to go forward?”

Hogan: “Absolutely – I think it’s very important that we have confidence in the system of public administration at official level and political level – we learned enough in the Mahon Tribunal to know that this is important – but we’re not going to get into the political business of trying to find scapegoats for political purposes which is what ex-Minister Gormley is intending to do. I’m aware of issues that have come before Carlow County Council but on the material that has come out of the investigations to date I don’t see anything.”

Planning Review Report (June 2012)

Phil Hogan interview (Tony Lowes, Village)

Previously: Why Did Phil Hogan Stop Six Separate Planning Inquiries?

Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland