Further extension of time limits and appropriate periods in the planning process – Circular PL 02/2020

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has further extended appropriate periods and time limits associated with the planning process in response to the Governments decision to extend the ‘stay at home period’  until May 5th 2020.

The original 23 day extension to timelines for making appeals submissions etc has been extended by a further 19 days until May 9th 2020. The further extension of time limits and appropriate periods is the logical response to the stay at home extension.

The effect of the further extension has the total effect of adding an additional 42 days (6 weeks) to prescribed time limits and appropriate periods set out in planning legislation.

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/circular_pl_03-2020_april_2020_dhplg.pdf

Link to updated Departmental FAQ’s attached

https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/faqs_revision_2_170420_final_.pdf

FAQ’s on effect of an Order under Section 251A on the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has published a FAQ relating to planning timelines affected by COVID19 refer to link https://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/faq_planning_timelines_covid-19_30_mar_2020.pdf

Key Provisions

  • An Order with a duration of 23 days, means that a planning authority will have the normal
    period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to three weeks and two days
    i.e. up to eleven weeks and two days in total, to determine a planning application
  • Planning Applications may be posted to the relevant local authority principal office, even
    where public offices are closed
  • Planning applications may be decided during the period (29th March 2020 – 20th April 2020 inclusive) for applications lodged up to 21st February 2020 (i.e. public participation period had ended by the date of the order). The planning authority may decide the permission up to the duration of the order
  • Planning applications lodged after 21st February and before 29th March 2020 cannot be decided until after after 20th April 2020 at the earliest – this to ensure that the 5 week public participation period plus a further 23 days public participation be available
  •  Planning applications lodged after 29th March – the commencement period for observations shall be the date on which the application is received up to 20th April 2020 plus an additional 5 week period from 21st April 2020
  • Section 247 Pre-planning meetings may take place during the period of the order via electronic means
  • Observations may be made as usual by post and online (where facilitated by local authorities) – note the extended period for observations provided by the order
  • The period for appeals is extended for the duration of the order
  • Appeals may be decided during the period of the order where the period of public consultation has ended
  • Oral hearings shall not take place during the period of the order
  • Development Plans processes and other Plan Processes shall cease during the period of the order
  • Part 8 processes are affected by the order – the period of public display, reporting or decision making shall be extended for the duration of the period of the order

Extension of period for Public Participation in Planning Applications

The Department for Housing, Planning and Local Government on 29th March 2020 announced that the Government has agreed to make an order, which shall have the effect of extending the public participation period by 23 days.

Whereby;

  • If an application was lodged before 21 February 2020, the public participation phase is completed, and so a planning authority can make a decision within the extended deadline;
  • If an application was lodged after 21st February 2020, but before 29 March 2020, the decision cannot be made until after 20 April 2020 to ensure that the public participation element has been completed;
  • If an application is lodged after 29 March 2020, it cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until the five-week period for public consultation on the application commences, which will now be after 20 April 2020.

The Minister said: “We find ourselves in unprecedented times. People have been asked to remain at home, with older and vulnerable people cocooning and others only leaving their home for certain essential purposes. Given these new restrictions on the movement of people, it is important to extend the public participation periods in the planning system, to ensure that the integrity of decision making is upheld, and to ensure that plan making for new development can continueWork will continue through these new restrictions so that the planning system is well placed to play its vital role in supporting the recovery.”

Planning applications can continue to be made by post, and authorities can engage with applicants by electronic means, accepting submissions by post and electronic means. Most authorities have on-line systems for inspecting planning applications. The extended time will also apply to planning appeals, which An Bord Pleanála will continue to receive by post.

Minister Murphy concluded: “The planning and development system plays an important role in supporting the economic development of the country, and will play a vital role in supporting social and economic activity when this COVID 19 emergency is past.   I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of the staff of planning authorities in keeping the planning system operating and open for business at this time.  The measures taken today will support the integrity of decision making, by ensuring that public participation in the process is not diminished by the current restrictions.”

Interpretation of the announcements

  • Applications lodged before Feb 21st 2020 allowed for full public consultation (unaffected by COVID19) and engagement and shall not be delayed by the announced extension
  • Applications lodged between Feb 21st 2020 and March 29th 2020 shall have the statutory 5 week period of public consultation extended by an additional 23 days.
  • Applications lodged after March 29th and April 20th – shall have a consultation period of the remaining days between the date of lodgement and April 20th plus 5 weeks