As published in AT Journal #134 – Summer 2020
Q&A with Michael O’Keeffe BSc(Hons) MCIAT, Chartered Architectural Technologist,
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government issued an Order on March 25 which has affected applications for planning permission in the Republic of Ireland. The Order resulted in extensions of time for a range of specified/appropriate periods and timelines under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).
This Order took effect from 29 March and was due to end on 20 April. The measures were subsequently extended until Saturday 9 May, and again further extended until Saturday 23 May 2020 inclusive, comprising a total period of eight weeks (56 days).
What did this mean?
A planning authority had the normal period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to eight weeks i.e. up to sixteen weeks in total, to determine a planning application.
Could planning applications be submitted during this period?
Yes, local authorities continued to register, validate, and upload new applications as resources allowed but were generally not processed beyond that.
What happens if a planning application was lodged prior to 29 March?
This depends on the portion, or number of days of the eight-week statutory planning time period, that remained on the coming into effect of the Order on 29 March 2020. For such planning applications, up to eight additional weeks (56 days) may be applied to planning due dates that were applicable prior to 29 March. In each case, the exact calculation of the statutory time period for determination will depend on the date the planning application was submitted. For example, a planning application submitted on Friday 27 March 2020, must now be determined by Thursday 16 July 2020.
Did the emergency legislation affect other planning processes?
Yes, the extended time periods also applied to development plans, planning enforcement and planning appeals (An Bord Pleanála).
When were the restrictive measures lifted and what does the resumption of statutory timelines mean for determination of planning applications?
From Sunday 24 May 2020, the planning authority have the normal statutory planning period of eight weeks, to determine (a) any planning application made during the period of duration of the Order, i.e. from 29 March 2020 to 23 May 2020 inclusive, and (b) any planning application made on or after Sunday 24 May 2020.
How do the resumption of statutory timelines effect public participation in the planning process?
From Sunday 24 May 2020, any interested person has the normal statutory planning period of five weeks, to make a submission or observation on (a) any planning application made during the period of duration of the Order i.e. from 29 March 2020 to 23 May 2020 inclusive, and (b) any planning application made on or after Sunday 24 May 2020. This means that any planning application submitted to a planning authority after 29 March 2020 and during the period of the Order, cannot be decided by the planning authority until the five-week period for public participation on the application has been completed, and this cannot be for at least five weeks after 23 May 2020, i.e. Saturday 27 June 2020 (N.B. as the first day after 27 June 2020 is a Sunday where the office of planning authorities are closed, submissions may be made until Monday 29 June 2020 in such cases).