Planning notices and participatory democracy

I was very struck, when I visited Toronto last autumn for a conference, about the quality of the local development application notices.

The ones I saw were poster-sized, with a significant amount of information about the proposed development, including a digital image of what the development would look like once complete, and a QR code that  could be used to access the relevant application documents online.

IMG_6836Here is an example.   It provides information on the proposed development, the name and telephone number of the official dealing with the application, and information about how to access more information online (with a QR code) and in person.

In Ireland, we are still apparently wedded to the idea that a planning notice can give limited information about the proposed development, in a way that really does not invite participation by someone who wants to know more about it, or who may be affected by it.  Here is an example of an Irish notice.  There’s no name of an official to speak to, no idea of what the development will look like, but – perhaps worst of all – the notice suggests that the only way to find out more is to go to the planning office in person.

File 25-05-2017, 11 29 37

There is an extensive online file in respect of this application, but you wouldn’t know if from looking at this notice.  The regulations in relation to site notices ( S.I. 685/2006, Planning and Development Regulations 2006) are specific – the notice should be in the form set out in Schedule 3 to the Regulations.

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 11.43.23 am

A search against the address on the planning authority’s website gives extensive information, without anyone having to go to the planning office.  It also facilitates an interested person to seek advice about the proposed development without having to pay someone to attend at the planning office and look at the plans.    The online search also gives the name of the case officer, which is very helpful, and isn’t on the site notice (as it would be in Toronto).    Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 11.45.59 am

The documents tab says ‘0’ but in fact contains a map of the site, the proposed plans, etc.

Screen Shot 2017-05-25 at 11.50.06 am

Isn’t it time the site notice Regulations were amended to direct people to the online applications?

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