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.
- 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 continue. Work 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