Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish has called for a radical overhaul of An Bord Pleanála, with the planning appeals board reformed on a regionalised basis.
And he has also urged time limits to be introduced for decisions to be made by the body, similar to those applying to local councils’ planning departments.
“I feel that An Bord Pleanála as it stands should be broken up and made into a regional operation to decide on most appeals brought to it.
“The head office in Dublin would continue to deal with infrastructural projects, the big projects, with a number of regional offices looking after the smaller developments in their area,” said Deputy Grealish.
“At the moment you have young people planning to build a house who run into objections after maybe being granted permission by Galway County Council or Galway City Council.
“They then have to wait six months to a year for An Bord Pleanála to rule on the objection, and they can’t contact them, they can’t talk to them.
“I know the appeals board is an independent entity, but there should be allowance made for the applicant and even the objector to meet with the person making the decision to discuss any issues of concern they may have.
“That’s a much more sensible approach than what happens at the moment, where you ring up and they say a decision won't be made until such and such a date and then you get a letter saying there has been a delay of another two or three months and it just goes on and on.
“If you had a regional office here in Galway making the decision, it would be much easier to allow for some discussions with the local inspector — I could see a lot of these decisions being made a lot faster this way and the whole operation made more efficient.”
Deputy Grealish said that An Bord Pleanála generally took much too long at the moment to come to a decision.
“The local authorities have to make their decision on a planning application within an eight-week period … there is no reason why An Bord Pleanála should not have a time limit of sorts put on them too.
“Unless there is something like an environmental impact study that has to be undertaken, the planning appeals board should be able to come to a decision on an appeal within eight weeks also,” he added.