PEOPLE in Clare will soon be able to apply to build a house from the comfort of their couch, with plans in place for the introduction of online planning applications.
It is expected that the new system will be implemented by Clare County Council next year. Councillor Cillian Murphy outlined the need for an online system to submit planning applications at the monthly meeting of the council.
He described it as “crazy” that people prepare planning applications digitally on a computer before printing them out and travelling to the planning office, where they are then digitised again by scanning. He said this is a waste of resources, pointing out there would be environmental benefits if planning agents did not have to travel to the planning office.
Councillor Donna McGettigan agreed that it “makes sense” to allow planning applications to be made online. Councillor Gerry Flynn stated that it “seems practical”, however he cautioned that not everybody has computer skills. “This would have to be inclusive, we have to cater for the 405 who are not IT literate,” he said.
Liam Conneally, director of service told the meeting, “Similar to most other local authorities, presently it is not possible for members of the public, developers or agents to make planning applications online. Currently, applications must be submitted in hard copy. In preparation for ePlanning applications, submissions etc an online ePlanning Project is being developed for national use by the Local Government Management Agency(LGMA).
“This online planning system will allow ePlanning applications to be made and applicants will be electronically updated on the progress of their application. The project aims to improve efficiency, reduce the potential for invalid applications, and deliver on the government strategy to move more public services online.
“The ePlanning project is currently in its final stages of development and testing following which the LGMA will be tasked with the national rollout. Clare County Council has been consulted during its development thus ensuring that the electronic system will meet our operational requirements and integrate to the largest extent possible with existing systems. I am hoping that the system will be live in Clare County Council by the middle of 2022.”
He said that the move online “is a matter of time. He added that the comments of the councillors would be taken on board, and he anticipates there will be a ‘dual’ system in place initially featuring both online and paper applications “until planning agents and people are more comfortable” with the online system.