Mayo County Council has been ranked among the worst councils in Ireland’s planning system according to a study released yesterday by An Taisce.
Ireland’s national trust graded all local authorities based on eight different criteria over the eleven years from 2000-2011 and Mayo was among the nine counties who were left with an F grade.
Mayo was fifth from bottom out of the 34 city and county councils surveyed, scoring just a mark of 30 per cent across the eight categories.
The categories include overzoning; decisions reversed by An Bord Pleanála after being passed by a local authority; percentage of vacant housing stock; and percentage of one-off houses permitted.
An Taisce describe the overall findings as ‘stark and troubling’ and make a number of radical proposals. Speaking on behalf of An Taisce to The Mayo News last night, Charles Stanley-Smith, a one-time chairman of the trust, said that Mayo didn’t do well across the board.
“Mayo didn’t do well with regards to the amount of times a planning decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála and reversed by An Bord Pleanála. In quite a lot of cases the decision was overturned because the Council’s decision to grant planning permission was in contradiction of their own County Development Plan,” said Mr Stanley-Smith.
Another area where Mayo failed badly was in terms of the number of vacant houses in the county. This is not inclusive of holiday homes. Mr Stanley-Smith said this was indicative of ‘over-development’ in the county during the boom times, arguing that more sustainable development would have been of more benefit in the long-term.
Not surprisingly the issue of one-off housing was another area where Mayo struggled. The issue has been a continuous bone of contention in the Mayo County Council chamber in Castlebar.
“Mayo didn’t do well on one off houses either. What a lot of local authorities don’t seem to appreciate is that it is more expensive to provide infrastructure to one-off houses in the countryside than it is to do so to estates etc. If the council allow so many one-off houses, it is going to mean that it will cost them much more money themselves to provide the infrastructure to that house,” argued Mr Stanley-Smith.