Pre-Application Consultations in Ireland; The Process, What to Include and the Benefits

As with anything in life, a pro-active approach in preparation for submission of a planning application for development comes highly recommended. And how can one initiate this approach? In this blog, we explore Pre-Application Consultations – the process, what to include and the benefits.

The Process

As set out under Section 247 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning law facilitates pre-application consultations (also referred to as pre-planning meetings) between a Local Planning Authority and any person who has an interest in land and who intends to make a planning application. They give prospective applicants for planning permission the opportunity to discuss their proposal with the Local Area Planner.

Every Local Authority office and website provides details of how to access this service, the supporting information required and the terms and conditions which apply. The Local Planning Authority does not charge a fee for this service and it is provided without prejudice to the Planning Authority’s final decision. It is important to note that Pre-Application Consultations are advisory, and guidance is given in good faith based on the information made available at the time (see ‘What to Include’ below).

The consultation will be conducted either by e-mail, telephone call or in person (as appropriate) and you will receive a formal record which will include an outline of the aspects discussed, including important items identified during the meeting.

What to Include

Each Local Authority may have specific requirements in terms of supporting information, and these are typically listed in their prescribed Pre-Application Consultation forms. The standard information (i.e. address of development, description of development etc.) are required as part of completion of the forms.

The following list of supporting information can be prepared by you or together with your designer / consultant to outline the proposed development appropriately and effectively:
• Written consent from the landowner if applicant is not the landowner.
• Applicant’s circumstances (i.e. local to immediate area etc.).
• Site Location Map (1:2500 [Rural] or 1:1000 [Urban]).
• Draft Site Layout Plan (1:500 [Rural] or 1:250 [Urban]).
• Draft Plans, Elevations & Sections of proposed development.
• Photographs / photomontages.

Having considered the applicable County / City / Town Development Plan, Local Area Plans, planning policies and design guidelines prior to the consultation and demonstrating compliance within the documentation will aid the Local Authority in understanding the proposal and assist in allowing them to provide a holistic view on the proposed application.

The Benefits

With the level of information that is required, you are probably wondering if a Pre-Application Consultation is necessary and what are the benefits? A good rule of thumb is the larger the development is, the greater the need for prior consultation with the Planning Authority. The following are other reasons for a consultation:
• The site is exposed / isolated / elevated.
• The site is located within a Special Amenity Area.
• The site is located within an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) (a place, area, group of structures or townscape that is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, technical, social, cultural, or scientific, interest, or that contributes to the appreciation of a Protected Structure).
• The proposed development is a departure from the design guidance or architectural character of neighbouring properties.

So, what are the benefits? The Local Planning Officer will offer guidance on local planning policy and how it pertains to the applicant and the site. They will also offer input on the development and design (any reservations i.e. scale, height, location etc.).

Finally, if there are certain aspects which are contentious, they will request these be addressed in the planning application submission. This will help you to compile a concise application to allow the planning authority to make an efficient and timely decision and reduce the possibility of a Further Information request during the planning process.