January 31, 2004.
Laois is booming, judging by planning applications.
Last year there’d been a 30% increase in the number of application, director of services Gerry Gibson told the Laois County Council meeting on Monday.
The total number received was 1,629, he revealed. Planning permission was granted for approximately 1,200 dwellings, the “equivalency” of up to 4,000 persons.
And, continued Mr Gibson, in the commercial sector the council processed applications involving 88,000 sq metres, or nearly 900,000 sq feet.
He reported a substantial surge in applications, particularly sizeable ones, in the last quarter of 2003.
He said the planning department continued to experience an “unprecedented level of activity”. For example, it dealt with 7,500 public visits to the counter. Its income from planning fees was €817,175, he stated.
In addition, added Mr Gibson, unauthorised developments and enforcement cases still occupied staff resources.
Cllr Bill Delaney thought the figures showed that people were making a choice to work and live in Laois, and he credited his party (Fianna Fail) for the county’s “well being”.
Cllr Lodge: “The 30% increase (in planning applications) is a problem that has come from success.”
County manager Martin Riordan believed Mr Gibson’s report was a benchmark on how well Laois was doing. In many cases, the council was processing planning applications with less staff resources, he said.
The 88,000 sq m figure for commercial development, showed that Laois was on developers’ “radar”, he opined.
Mr Riordan voiced a “slight criticism” about the quality of some planning applications.
Cllr James Deegan thought that planning applications had increased in the last quarter of 2003 because people, particularly young rural dwellers, had been under the illusion they could escape development charges.
Cllr Charles Flanagan: “The importance of the enforcement officer cannot be overstated, to ensure that we do not have unauthorised developments.”