Tuesday 31 March 2009

Planning Decisions and invalidations

We received another positive decision from a planning authority on Friday last, it seems as if the penny has finally dropped in local government. The conditions were even favourable for a change.

Well maybe not as the ever increasing list of petty things giving cause for invalidations continues. I got a call from a planning authority to inform me to expect the return of the application as it has been invalidated due to a number of petty things, which won''t have been considered as items to invalid an application 6 months ago. In the course of the conversation I was advised to address a number of building control related items, which although they didn't invalidate the application, the local authority would be seeking them to be addressed even though they don't have a material effect on the planning application. Planning Authorities have now assumed the role of the Building Control Authority by all accounts... I wonder will they be issuing Opinions of Compliance with Planning and Building Regulations also.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Progress or is it?

Yesterday's pre-planning meeting was positive, the planner liked the proposals and would welcome the redevelopment of the site, however (there's always one) we were advised to engage with the DEHLG as the building is on the NIAH although no longer a protected structure. I suppose one has to welcome the fact that the planner was helpful and flagged to us that we should engage with the Department prior to making the planning submission, sometime that would properly not have happened in the past... watch this space to see how the development progresses.

At the same meeting, we took the opportunity to run by proposed revisions to a recently permitted development, prior to compliance submission. The planner was favourable towards the revisions, so we will now be submitting the revisions formally, and avoid the repeat of a high profile case which occurred recently in Cashel. Its positive news and allows me to proceed full steam ahead with preparing the Fire Safety Certificate application and working drawings now, for this project.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Pre-Planning Meeting

Later this morning I'll be attending a pre-planning meeting with the local planner to discuss proposals for the redevelopment of a property in town, known as Anglea's The site has been subject to two previous planning applications in the past, neither of which got any further that further information stage.

The fact that the property has been deleted from the list of projected structures in the past few months should help the case, in progressing the development this time. The building has been altered on a number of occasions in the past which has effected the structural integrity of the building. None of the walls are tied together. There is also evidence of movement, one only has to look at the crack in the picture. The original roof has been long removed, indeed there is evidence to suggest that the building has been shortened in the past too. The detail of the windows further suggests that the building has been altered overtime, so a redevelopment of the building at this time, is another stage in the life of the building.

Our proposal, is to partially demolish the building and reconstruct this in a contemporary style to distinguish the new works form the original... of course this is dependant on how we get on with the planner this morning.

Monday 23 March 2009

Planning Applications and decisions

Just putting the finishing touches to two "huge" (not ! ) planning applications this morning: A retention application for a coffee shop measuring 30 sq . m and an application for a replacement domestic garage.

The coffee shop application, is a result of planning enforcement, which is a big thing at the moment, in many of these case the first part should seek a Section 5 Declaration or referral, where a warning letter is sent out, prior to replying for retention. It was not an option in this case as there is not parent permission. The decision f the planning authority will be interesting.

The application for the garage is a straight forward application, although an additional hassle on the clients, has they have had the garage uprooted, due tot he recent flood relief works in Clonmel.

Friday did bring some positive news in that the planning authority granted permission for a development... admittedly reducing the floor area by 230 sq. metres, in reducing the development by a floor.

Friday was also to see a decision by An Bord Pleanala, in respect to a development which was subject to a third party appeal, however as of yet there is no news, the decision date , has been put back a number of times already, so there will be no surprise, if its put back again.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Dependance on Technology

For almost a week now, our server in work has been down, a faulty hard disk is the problem, I'm told. Its meant that everything on the network was down, printers, email, internet access, and even access to files. Fortunately I had loads of paperwork to tidy up, so the down time allowed me attend to that, but at the same time it has shown how depend we have become on certain pieces of technology. Email and internet access are now an important part of the office structure,providing access to local authority planning files, application forms, and documents and even printer drivers. I went about setting up our mian printers as local printers on my laptop, only to find there were no drivers in the office, nor does the printer manufacturer supply them..... other than to download them for their website.... a bit of a problem if you have no internet access. Anyway things should be back up and running before the weekend, and possibly tomorrow.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Information Evening

On Thursday Evening I headed to WIT for one of the IATGN information evenings. The attendance was much smaller than the previous events, with approximately 25 in attendance; a reflection on how the industry currently is.

On the night three topics were covered;
Accessibility Auditing by William Longeran MCIAT and OPW Architectural Assistant, Update on Planning by Peter Thompson Planning Consultant and Vista Options for the Architectural Technologist/Technician by a rep from VisaFirst.com. The evening was worth attending as I did learn something from each of the speakers presentations.

The Accessibility Auditing was particularly interesting, considering that it s expected that in the comming year the long awaited Access Certificates will be introduced. BS8300 2009 will be on the shopping list for these I would image. Now when things are quiet , is the ideal time to get up to speed with that document and incorporating the principals of same into new building design.

The second presentation of the night on planning, was beneficial and I picked up some information on enforcement and that every often is it best to request a declaration or referral under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, where Planning Authorities issue a warning letter prior to applying for retention permission. The talk moved on the proposed new planning bill and the expected implications for development plans and zoning. By all accounts zoning will not longer be a case of putting a colour on a map: things like demostration of adequate services, school capacities etc will have to be taken into account when lands are been zoned. No doubt it will be up to the landowner to demonstrate that the lands should be zoned.

The third talk was on visas, it was more interesting than I expected it would be.

Afterwards a cup of tea was enjoyed , and more importantly a chat with fellow ATs.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

its the small stuff

Its the small stuff that takes the time.... working on small projects/jobs are far more time consuming to that of working on a large project. You could spend a day working on a small project and have hardly anything to show for it, yet a day on a major project, could see 5 or 6 drawings after the days work.

A planning application for a domestic garage for example may only have one A3 drawing and a few maps in its planning application but it still takes the best part of 2 days to prepare the planning application, while a week working on a larger project, could see a lorry load of drawings created for a planning application.

Also for some reason the small stuff seems to get left on the desk for longer, at present there's properly 5 or 6 small jobs to be done, which would occupy a week or two, yet some of them are outstanding for nearly a month at this stage and all are sitting on someone's desk for over a week. I think its time to allocate a morning or two each week solely to the smaller projects to keep on top of them.. staring this morning.

Monday 9 March 2009

Planning Authorities

If you were to go by a planning authority and the length one has to wait for an appointment, you would think there is a flood of appointments and planning applications to be dealt with . Tried making an appointment last Friday to be given a date of the end of the month, yet the planning authority in question hasn't received a planning application in nearly 4 weeks. Mind you with the rate of the requests for further information from the same authority, you can see how there are no available appointments for nearly 3 weeks... further information requests for almost every application with in most cases requests for redesigns of previously agreed proposals and the flowerly language used, in the same requests for further information isn't helpful either ... just to really get up the applicants and agents backs.

One would think local authorities would be helpful and encourage activity that maintains jobs. Do they not realise that they will end up supporting the construction industry out of their own pocket, through the higher taxes needed to fund the ever growing dole queues.

Other planning authorities are boosting their number of planning applications in retention applications as a result of warning and enforcement procedures, which isn't a true reflection on how active or not construction will be. I wonder how long it will be before the planning authorities throughout the country will realise that there is a significant dent in their revenues due no construction activity and no development contributions, or how many planners will loose their jobs due to the lack of planning applications. Maybe we will see volumes of masterplans for village that will now never be developed prepared by idol planners.