Public participation period in the planning system extended for a further 19 days
The Government agreed, at the request of Eoghan Murphy T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, to make an order, which has the effect of further extending all public participation periods in the planning system for 19 additional days, up to and including 9 May 2020.
The previous Government Order, which was made on 29 March 2020, had specified that the extension period was to end on 20 April 2020. This decision means that the initial 23-day extension to public participation periods in the planning system has been further extended, so that the total extension period is now 42 days or 6 weeks.
Minister Murphy stated: “I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of the staff of planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála in keeping the planning system operating in the way that they have during these extraordinary times. The measures taken today will support the integrity of the decision-making process by ensuring that public participation in the process is not diminished by the current restrictions. Our planning system has a key role at the heart of the post Covid-19 recovery.”
This further extension will now impact on the time taken to process planning applications, in the following ways:
- If an application was lodged before or on Friday 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 that date, but before 29 March 2020, the decision cannot be made until after 9 May 2020 to ensure that the public participation element has been completed;
- If an application is lodged after 29 March 2020, it cannot be determined by the Planning Authority until after the expiration of the five week period for public consultation, which now commences on 10 May 2020, so subject to the date on which an application is submitted, the earliest a decision could be made would be Monday 15 June 2020.
The extended time will also apply to planning appeals, which An Bord Pleanála will continue to receive by post.
The Department continues to recommend to planning authorities that public consultation and council meeting activity on all Plans be deferred until after the extension period, which will now end on 9 May 2020.
Where possible planning authorities are advancing as much work as possible through these extended restrictions for example, by using different work methods, accepting applications to be made by post. The Minister noted that since the first order was put in place, An Bord Pleanála, has been in a position to progress appeals and strategic housing and infrastructure applications which have already been subject to public consultation.
It is recognised that the six-week period being added to public participation places some limitations on the operation of the planning system at this time. However, these temporary accommodations to planning processes are necessary to ensure that the core principle of public participation within our system is protected, at a time when staying home continues to be such a critical aspect of the response to the Covid-19 emergency.
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. This will be facilitated in part by the stock of permissions already granted, with permissions already in place for more than 40,000 housing units that have not yet been built.
An updated ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document has been uploaded to Department’s website to reflect these and other changes in greater detail.