Case Study 8
Housing Planning applications and website publication
I received a complaint about the publication on a local authority website of the details of applicants for Planning Permission. I established that local authorities do not have discretion in relation to the publication of information which is included on a particular planning application. The information must be included on the planning list as set out in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001. The following quotations refer:
"27. (2) A list referred to in sub-article (1) shall indicate in respect of each planning application received during the week to which the list relates-
(a) the name and address of the applicant,"
As planning authorities are obliged by legislation to publish all planning applications with specified details, I concluded that there had not been a contravention of the Data Protection Acts in this instance.
It is worth noting that the Planning Acts also require that the names of objectors and summary of the objection be published. The practice by some authorities has been to scan on to the website a copy of the letters of objection which may include contact details of individuals. I advise Local Authorities that while letters and accompanying names and addresses may be published in the interest of transparency, contact details should be omitted. Individuals making objections should be advised that their letter of objection will be published on the website and thus telephone numbers and email addresses should be omitted.
The practice by some authorities has been to scan on to the website a copy of the letters of objection which may include contact details of individuals.