Last night there was a most interesting discussion at the DIT Spatial Planning Graduate Network Annual Forum 2011 (http://www.dit.ie/sustainability/planning/) to which I was invited. The topic was Perspectives on NAMA and the Planning System. This forum consists mostly of DIT planning graduates concerned with planning and sustainable development.
There were interesting perspectives on the possible conflict between the need for long term sustainable development versus the operations of NAMA as an asset disposal agency seeking highest economic value. I can see both points of view. NAMA has a legal obligation to protect the taxpayer but there was a genuine concern among the professional planners present that 'good long term sustainable planning' needed to be the driving force behind recovery of the distressed assets or sites in question. There was much mention of 'ghost housing estates' which were also the result of 'developer led' policies as opposed to 'plan led' policies.
There appeared to a general consensus at the Forum that it was not too late to seek a reconfiguration of NAMA operations to have greater regard to the planning system. NAMA is two years in existence but has yet to appointed a professional planner but we understand that there are now plans to do so.
As an attempt to clarify the NAMA approach to the spatial planning process I suggested that the professional bodies incl Engineers Ireland together with the architects, planners, landscape architects and surveyors might formulate a Professional Body Submission to the NAMA Planning Advisory Committee. This was generally agreed to be a positive outcome to the discussion. There was also a suggestion that the Urban Forum representing all of the relevant professional bodies might be a suitable vehicle for the submission to NAMA.