Thursday, 31 March 2016

Green light for plan to build Dublin’s tallest office block

Plans for Dublin’s tallest office block, a 73m-tall (240ft) building at the Point Village at the northside entrance to the city’s docklands, have been granted permission by Dublin City Council. 

The building, called the Exo in reference to its “exoskeleton” external supporting structure, will be built on the site of what was to be Ireland’s tallest building, Harry Crosbie’s “Watchtower”, which at 120m would have been the same height as the Spire in O’Connell Street. 

Read the full story in the Irish Times here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

New children's hospital could cost €60m more than estimated

The cost of the new children's hospital could be up to €60m higher, than previous estimates.
The Irish Times reports that a confidential assessment shows that the bill for building the new hospital could be significantly higher, because of inflation in the construction sector.
It is estimated to run at 7.5%, rather than the 3% previously projected.
The new National Children's Hospital will be built on the campus of St James' Hospital in Dublin.
The total cost of the hospital is estimated to be around €700m.

Read the Breaking News article here.

Cost of children’s hospital could be €60m above estimate

The Irish Times has reported that the Government has been warned the cost of building the new national children’s hospital could be up to €60 million higher than originally envisaged.

Remainder of the article here.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Decision on children’s hospital delayed up to three months

A decision on planning permission for the new National Children’s Hospital has been delayed by up to three months.
An Bord Pleanála was due to make a decision on the €650 million project by next week, but now says a decision will be announced before May 12th.
The board says the delay is due to the “complexity of issues in the case”, according to a letter being sent to interested parties this week.
Two weeks of oral hearings were held last November and December into the project, which is planned for a site at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
The hearings heard opposition to the building of the project at St James’s from a variety of groups, including local residents, children’s charities and retired medical personnel.

Read the full article @ The Irish Times

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Ghost estates: 19,000 families, individuals in unfinished projects

According to today's Irish Times, the number of unfinished housing estates has dropped from 3,000 in 2010 to 668 this year.
The number of unfinished estates in Ireland now stands at 668 and more than 19,000 individuals and families are living in almost 500 of them, a new report shows.
Resolving Unfinished Housing Developments, the fourth annual progress report from the Department of the Environment and the Housing Agency, shows the number of so-called ghost estates has dropped from 3,000 in 2010 to 668 this year.
The National Asset Management Agency owns 47 of the unfinished developments, the report says.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, 14 December 2015

What powers does the Irish Planning Institute think the planning regulator should have?

Earlier this year the Irish Independent covered the  Irish Planning Institute's appearance before the Dail Environment Committee to discuss changes to planning legislation, including a new, independent planning regulator, who will be tasked with ensuring local policies comply with national standards and are in line with best practice.

Mary Hughes, President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), said her members - professional urban and rural planners - have serious concerns about the lack of powers for the regulator. Here, she outlines the weaknesses of the current proposal.
Nearly four years ago, the IPI welcomed the recommendations of the Mahon Tribunal report "into certain planning matters and payments".

In essence, it proposed that some of the Environment Minister's planning enforcement role be transferred to an independent planning regulator with powers to ensure that development plans prepared by planning authorities complied with national policy.
This was to prevent, among other things, the excessive zoning of land. Powers were also promised to undertake investigations into the performance of local authorities, particularly if there were complaints, and to conduct research, education and training.

Proposals for a new Office of the Planning Regulator have finally been made public, but the regulator does not appear to have been given much independence.
Currently, the minister can direct a local authority to change its county or local development plan if it does not conform to national policy.
Mahon proposed transferring these powers to the new independent regulator. However, it is now proposed that the final decision on a development plan will rest with the minister of the day, and not the new regulator, demoting the regulator's role to that of an 'adviser'. Advising is not regulating.
If we are to have the radical reforming legislation envisaged by Mahon, then a better balance between regulation, independence and democratic oversight must be struck.
Whilst the regulator may have a little more independence with its investigative role, the full extent of that role is not entirely clear.
Without powers of enforcement, it is difficult to see how effective the planning regulator can be in the long term.

See the full story at Irish Independent

New planning regulator can be overruled by minister

The new planning regulator will not be given powers to force local authorities to change their rules to comply with national policy.
Instead, the Environment Minister will ultimately decide if a city or county council is flouting the guidelines, and will retain the power to force a council to make changes.
The details are contained in the head of the Planning and Development (No 2) Bill 2014 published by the Department of the Environment.
A key recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal, which found that corruption affected "every level of Irish political life", the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) will be established as a new and separate office and will be obliged to inform the minister if a planning strategy is "not consistent" with proper planning.
If the minister agrees, they will issue a direction to the local authority, ordering them to change the plan. If they disagree, they must state the reasons why, which will then be published.

Read the rest of the Irish Independent's article here.