WILL ISSUE DIRECTIVE The Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, TD.
AN Independent councillor says he will not make changes to the Mayo County Development Plan if it will affect the building of houses in rural areas.
In a letter to Mayo County Council last Monday, the Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, said he plans to issue a directive telling the council to make changes to the County Development Plan in order to comply with planning laws.
Mayo County Council ratified the Mayo County Development Plan 2022-2028 at the end of June. However, the Office of the Planning Regulator has informed the council that the development plan has ‘not been made in a manner consistent with recommendations of the Office’.
The council is now obliged to prepare the public notices inviting a statutory public consultation process.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne told The Mayo News that he is not surprised by the Minister’s decision to follow the Office of the Planning Regulator’s recommendations. However, he said that councillors were not prepared to make changes to the adopted County Development Plan.
“I have been speaking to a number of councilors and we are really annoyed by this because of the implications it will have for young people who want to build houses. I see a similar thing has happened in Cork where they were told their plan must comply with the law. But this law was brought in by our TDs and some of them don’t seem to be aware of it.
“I don’t know what will happen because some of us will not vote for a development plan that curbs the right of people to live in the countryside, and I know I would not be alone in that,” Cllr Kilcoyne said.
Catherine McConnell, Director of Services responsible for planning in Mayo County Council, informed councillors that the council will ‘prepare a short document to issue to all councillors which will clearly show the changes required by the measures as set out in the Minister’s Draft Direction as they would apply to the Adopted Development Plan’.
‘Home to roost’
Cllr Kilcoyne said the matter will be raised at the September meeting of Mayo County Council and they will decide then what position they should take on the matter.
While councillors may vote against any changes to the plan, they may be overruled on the matter, as they no longer have a veto on planning matters in the council.
“This comes back to laws invoked by Phil Hogan and Enda Kenny, which took the rights away from the councillors. Now it is coming home to roost … They have made the chief executives the kings in whatever county they are in, and they seem to have absolute authority to do what they want.
“It is unclear what happens if we reject [the recommendations of the Minister and Office of the Planning Regulator]. We could be arriving at a bit of an impasse, but it is too early to say what is going to happen,” he said.