A GREEN Party councillor in Cork has called on Cork City Council to divert resources to tackle a growing backlog of planning enforcement complaints.
Information provided to Oliver Moran by the council showed a growing backlog of planning enforcement cases still being investigated at the end of each year between 2019 and 2021.
Over the three-year period, the total number of planning enforcement cases referred to or initiated by Cork City Council remained relatively static, with 132 cases in 2019, 134 in 2020 and 139 in 2021.
Only 60%-70% of these cases were closed each year, leading to a backlog of open cases, with 241 in 2019, 279 in 2020 and 332 in 2021.
An official working for Cork City Council told Mr Moran that the council’s enforcement team consists of four members, including an enforcement inspector, a planner and administrative support.
“Due to staff changeovers, due to turnover with posts being taken up elsewhere, promotions, etc, there have been periods during 2020, 2021 and 2022 where there has not been a dedicated enforcement planner in place,” the official said.
Mr Moran said he had been prompted to look into the figures because of a controversy surrounding the lack of electric car charging points at Lidl in Churchfield, on the northside of the city.
Mr Moran said there are no electric car charging points in that part of the city, and providing charging points had been a condition of planning for Lidl in 2016.
“However, this wasn’t done and residents there have been looking to have the matter enforced ever since,” Mr Moran said.
“This is just one example from 332 cases now backing up that are affecting residents in all kinds of ways,” he said.
He added that planning enforcement is a key function for any local authority, and said it is the responsibility of Cork City Council to ensure the city is well planned for the future and residents have the services they need.
“Each case in this growing backlog is a dis-economy for residents,” Mr Moran said.
“Collectively, they amount to a significant failure of proper administration by Cork City Council.”
A spokesperson for Cork City Council’s planning enforcement section said: “Cork City Council’s figures regarding closure of enforcement cases are within the national parameters when compared with those of other local authorities as provided in the NOAC ‘Local Authority Performance Indicator Report 2020’ dated September 2021.”