A useful guide to Ireland’s planning system and how to give your opinion on proposed developments


IRELAND’S PLANNING SYSTEM has returned to the center of attention this week amid opposition to plans to build two new developments in central Dublin.

The approval of plans to build a four-story hotel at Merchant’s Arch was criticized on social media earlier this week, saying the red-brick development would destroy the character of the walkway that connects Temple Bar to the Ha Bridge. ‘Penny.

The anger at this decision had not subsided yet when he appeared that another hotel was planned in Smithfield next to the Cobblestone pub which would essentially replace the smoking area and pub venue, leaving only the front bar in place.

Opponents of the two developments decried what they see as a glut of hotels in the capital, combined with the gradual erosion of cultural spaces.

Regardless of your stance on these issues, there are formal methods of expressing your perspective on planning requests and ways to find out what is planned before you hear about it in news reports or on social media.

For those who want to know how it all works, here is a guide to the Irish planning system.

How do developers get permission to create something?

It is important to note up front that the planning system covers much more than building new homes or hotels.

Every year, tens of thousands of applications are filed for permission to build or maintain developments on a much smaller scale, such as house extensions, driveways, disabled parking, use of certain signs outside shops or smoking areas in pubs.

Demand planning – whether small like those described above or larger like houses or hotels – are subject to the local authority which governs the area in which the proposed development is going to be located.

As part of the application submission process, developers are required to post a notice of their plans in a local newspaper and install a site notice at the physical location of the development, which looks like this:

Source: County Clare Council

Details of the request will then be posted on the council’s website, where documents – including drawings and models of what is proposed – will also appear.

Citizens can then submit their observations on the development – whether they support it or oppose it – until a certain date, before the community’s planning department decides to fire. green to the proposal.

If the promoter does not succeed, he can appeal the decision of the council to An Bord Pleanala, which essentially involves the same process: details of the proposal are posted on the council’s website and the public is invited to comment, before the council makes a decision.

Even if a local authority approves a development, An Bord Pleanála can be appealed to by a member of the public or a group of people who do not agree with the council’s decision. This is called a “third party call”.

Although An Bord Pleanála’s decision is the last stop in the planning system, its decisions can be appealed to the courts by people seeking judicial review, although this process is much more expensive and time consuming.

These reviews have made headlines in recent years because a number of local groups across the country have successfully prevented the construction of large-scale residential developments.

However, most of the planning problems in Ireland never reach the court system.

Where can I find the details of the proposed developments?

The town planning applications for each area of ​​the country, both those that are active and those that have been decided, are uploaded to the website of each local authority.

The planning section on each council’s website is usually easy to find, but there is also a handy list with links to all 33 of them. here.

Unsurprisingly, every local authority’s website is different and it might take a bit of research on the planning page to find what you’re looking for, but most of them are fairly straightforward and easy to navigate.

Each planning page has helpful links that you can use to find application details, and there are two things in particular that you should watch out for: a search function and weekly lists.

If you cannot find them on the website of the municipality, put “[local authority] planning search “or”[local authority] weekly planning lists ”in Google, with the name of the council you are looking for (eg“ Donegal County Council planning search ”).

If that still doesn’t work, you can also call the local authority for help.

Tips allow you to search for apps manually, so if you are looking for details about a specific app and know the address, you can search for it using a search function or on a map, both of which look like this:


Source: Kildare County Council


Source: Kildare County Council

General searches using a street or area name can help you find out what is planned in a specific area. And you can also search by date to come back to other developments that may already have been approved or denied.

When you click on a planning request itself, the board provides details, including what type of development is being offered and when they’ll make their decision.

There are even links with documents – including drawings – submitted by people / developers as part of their application, which allow people to see exactly what’s on offer.

For those who do not have internet access or prefer to view documents in person, details are also kept at the offices of the relevant local authority.

Weekly Lists

Council websites also contain details of new requests as they are submitted and decisions as they are made.

Each week, local authorities publish weekly lists of the most recent planning proposals they have received, as well as the developments they have approved or rejected. These lists are generally published on Mondays.

This is usually how media reports happen about the approval of new developments and how people find out about proposed developments that have not yet been given the green light (like Cobblestone).

Details of the calls made to An Bord Pleanála – including weekly lists like those published by the councils – can also be found on its website.

What information can be found in planning apps?

This is where the process gets a little tricky.

Planning applications can sometimes use fairly technical language because the application for a building permit is a technical process.

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But don’t be intimidated; you can glean a lot of knowledge from online applications, even if this is your first time examining one.

First of all, there are several types of apps that refer to different things:

  • ‘Authorisation’ refers to an attempt to build a whole new development; for example, a house or an extension. This covers the majority of applications.
  • “Retention authorization” refers to an attempt to continue with something that has already been approved on a temporary basis only; for example, the smoking area of ​​a pub.
  • “Contour authorization” refers to a request to determine whether a planning authority will agree to a proposal in principle before the applicant goes to the trouble of developing more detailed plans.
  • ‘Article 5’ This is where an applicant requests a formal declaration to establish whether a building permit is required for the type of work they wish to do.

The type of authorization sought will be indicated in a specific section of the page where the details of the request can be found.

This is where you can see what’s on offer, as well as details of any impact the development will have on the adjacent area (including nearby streets or other addresses).

Requests will often indicate what is being built, whether a demolition will take place, the size and square footage of any new building, and whether any amenities are provided (such as parking spaces or bicycle racks).

Sometimes they will contain proposals to close roads or sections thereof to allow construction to be carried out.

When a planning permission is granted, a council usually attaches a number of conditions – such as the deadline for completion of the work – to the request.

These can also be viewed on the application page on the community’s website, after a decision has been made.

How can I do about the observation of a development?

As part of the planning process, anyone has the right to make a written submission or comment on a request, which may be for or against a proposal (or even a mixture of the two).

If you wish to do so, you are required to contact the competent local authority in writing and, if possible, quote the reference number of the planning application and give your name and address. A charge of 20 € also applies.

Observations should be made by a certain date, which can be found online (as you can see in the Cobblestone example above). The deadline for submitting applications is generally five weeks after the submission of the application.

When making an observation, there are a couple of things to note.

You need to be clear about why you are supporting or opposing the development: it is unlikely that just saying “the area needs / doesn’t need this” is unlikely to have much of an impact on how people are doing it. council planners make their decision.

Instead, you can consider things like the impact something might have on a local area and the people who live there, how construction work might affect you or your property, or how many similar facilities already exist in the region.

If you want to get a better idea of ​​the types of submissions people make and how much planners consider them, a good tip is to look back at what members of the public have said about similar developments in the region.

You can even see if they took this into account by looking at the conditions attached by municipalities to building permits for past developments, or the decisions on why certain developments were refused.

An inspection report from Bord Pleanála also details the types of submissions people make, as well as the conditions for approval or reasons for denial of authorization.

The more submissions and reports you read, the more you will have an idea of ​​the kind of reasons why certain developments are allowed to go forward.

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