Below is a speech I gave in the Dáil last week on the issue of an independent planning regulator.
Cinnte, tá fadhbanna leis an bpróseis pleanála sa tír seo. Tá cuid de na fadhbanna seo ag leanúint ar aghaidh inniú.
There is absolutely no doubt there have been planning decisions in this country that have been disastrous for communities, certain areas and, at times, for the country as a whole. There was an expectation that there would be progress and that the promises made on the reviews into planning in certain local authorities would be met. Equally, it was expected that there would be a much better era of accountability and transparency.
I will consider three issues in my constituency.
The first one is in the docklands. The Minister of State and I both know about some of the disasters there where communities were left fighting for survival against the planners and developers. I listened to the Minister outline some of his plans. The Mahon tribunal sat for ten years and cost €97 million. What did it achieve? Some of the problems identified are still there. Unless there is real progress on this issue, there will be another boom and bust cycle and we will see more people evading taxes and putting their money into property. Already we can see certain sectors looking for restrictions to be lifted.
Another scandal in Dublin Central relates to Aldborough House, which is the second-biggest private Georgian residence in Dublin. As I give this speech I am standing in the largest such residence, the Dáil. Aldborough House had various uses over the past 200 years before being sold to a property developer whose company went into liquidation. I am not sure if the developer’s lifestyle went into liquidation but the property is now going to rack and ruin. I am not sure if he is getting a fine salary from the State but developers should be responsible for the properties they bought, regardless of the state of their companies. If there is any money coming into those developers, it should be used to secure the properties so they are not left to the local authority, which in this case is Dublin City Council.
The most glaring matter is the current and long-standing issue of Moore Street, an area of historical and cultural significance. It was first allowed by the local authority to fall into dereliction for many years and then it was sold, lock, stock and barrel to a private developer. If the so-called boom had continued, we would have another massive shopping centre at Moore Street in the midst of all the others in the area. This part of Dublin is of great historic significance and potential, as opposed to the one-sided view of culture evident in Temple Bar, has been failed by our planning system. That system has also failed the people who gave their lives in the Easter Rising. As a result of the planning process, today on Moore Street there are multinational supermarkets and tacky establishments that are undermining the genuine and long-standing tradition of Moore Street traders.
Image courtesy of STE-J-ART of an Aldborough House conservation project