Ireland's planning system was introduced on the 1 October 1964, when the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963 came into effect.
The physical planning system plays a key role in facilitating delivery of the infrastructure programmes and in addressing housing supply requirements. Local authorities and An Bord Pleanála directly operate the system under the Planning Acts 2000-2006.
The physical planning system in Ireland is operated on the ground by 88 local planning authorities: 29 County Councils, 5 County Borough Corporations, 5 Borough Corporations and 49 Town Councils. Decisions of the planning authorities can, for the most part, be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, the planning appeals board.
The Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government have published a series of leaflets on all aspects of the planning system and these are available free of charge from the Department or from planning authorities. They cover a whole range of issues including how to make a planning application, lodge an appeal, requirements for change of use, building extensions, in a word everything you need to know but didn't know who to ask.
Frequently Asked Questions: -
When do I need Planning Permission?
In general terms you need planning permission for any development of land or property unless the development is specifically exempted from this need. Development includes the carrying out of works (building, demolition, alteration) on land or buildings and the making of a material (i.e. significant) change of use of land or buildings.
When extending my home what is considered exempt development?
The basic rule is that you can extend your property without planning permission once the extension (or total number of extensions) is less than 40 sq metres. To be exempt the extension must be at the back of the house and must be not less than 2 metres from any party boundary. There are also rules about the height allowed depending on the design of your extension.
Attic extensions may be exempt but if you want dormer windows or windows to the front or side of the roof then you must get planning. You can’t build an extension to the side of your house without planning permission but you can convert your garage to living accommodation without planning.
Can I clear a site or demolish old buildings without planning permission?
Planning permission would not generally be required for basic site clearance. However, making or widening an access onto a public road, the demolition of a structure which was last used as a residence, demolition of a building in a terrace or one which is attached to another building in separate ownership, and other works, do need permission, either separately or with the planning permission for the house.
Can I build a garage?
You can build a garage, carport, shed, greenhouse, kennel for domestic pets etc., as long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed 4 metres in height. The floor area limitation for exempted development is 25 square metres. Garages, sheds etc. to the side of the house must match the finish of the house.
Can I build a front porch?
You can build a porch without planning permission, as long as it does not exceed 2 square metres in area and is more than 2 metres from any public road or footpath. Where the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed 4 metres in height, or 3 metres for any other roof type.
There are many general rules about planning permission but every extension is different so before you embark on a building job you should get professional advice.
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Should I consult the planning authority in advance?
You do not have to consult the planning authority before making a planning application, but it is often advisable to do so. Pre-planning consultations can highlight local planning policies that you may not be aware of and can save you time & money in the long term.
How long does the planning process take?
Planning applications should take no longer than 12 weeks altogether: 5 weeks for application to be validated and for third parties to make any observations, a further 3 weeks for the Planning Authority to make their decision, and a further 4 weeks for any third party objectors or yourselves to appeal the decision made. The Local Authority may request more time, or additional information if they feel they need it.
How long does permission last?
The standard duration for planning permission (permission or outline permission) is five years from the date of the grant of the permission by the planning authority. In certain circumstances the planning authority may extend the life of a planning permission but only where: substantial works have been carried out during the lifetime of the permission and the planning authority is satisfied that the development will be completed in reasonable time.
If a planning permission expires and can apply for a new permission for the same development but the planning authority may refuse permission or attach significantly different conditions. This can happen if planning policies or the requirements for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area have changed in the interim.
Can anyone object to my planning application?
Yes. The planning system is open and transparent. Everyone (individuals, residents’ associations, etc) has the right to see an application and, subject to payment of a prescribed fee, comment in writing, either positively or negatively, on it.
In deciding on an application, the planning authority must take all written comments into consideration. An individual can also comment on an application even if that person is not directly affected but feels strongly about a particular issue and want to express an opinion.
What happens if I get refused planning permission?
Being refused planning permission is a setback. It can often be overcome but it depends on why you have been refused. If you feel that your local authority’s decision is unreasonable, then you may appeal their decision to An Bord Pleanala. This will cost you €220 and will take up to 6 months in time. Maybe your initial proposal was too large and impacted visually on the area, then you could reconsider your design, and reapply for planning permission incluing a design with a lesser impact.
What is “an bord pleanala”?
An Bord Pleanala is a higher governing body to the local planning authorities formed to ensure that the planning processes within the country are being regulated fairly across the board. If anyone is unhappy with a decision made by their local authority, they may appeal this decision to An Bord Pleanala. It may be an appeal by someone against a refusal to their own planning application, or it may be a third party appealing against a granted permission for say, their neighbour.