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  • The draft version of the National Planning Framework Plan entitled Ireland 2040 is now available to view with submissions being sought by 3rd November 2017.

    The draft plan seeks predicts a growth of 1 million people during the lifetime of the Plan. This population growth will be dispersed as follows:

    ?25% is planned for Dublin, recognised as the key international and global city of scale and principal economic driver,
    ?25% across the other four cities combined (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford), enabling all four to grow their population and jobs by 50-60%, and become cities of greater scale, i.e. growing by twice as much as they did over the previous 25 years to 2016, and
    ?with the remaining 50% of growth to occur in key regional centres, towns, villages and rural areas, to be determined in the forthcoming regional plans – Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSESs).

    Published on September 28, 2017 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Guidelines;
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  • The act came into force at the very end of 2016 and introduced the concept of Strategic Housing Developments and extending the lifetime of planning permissions for certain residential development for a second time. It is expected however that the associated regulations will not come into force until mid April and only then will An Bord Pleanala be able to accept applications.

    Strategic Housing Developments involve, for a limited time-period, anew streamlined planning processes in respect of large-scale housing developments comprising 100 housing units or more or 200 or more student accommodation bedspaces allowing the making of planning applications for such developments directly to An Bord Pleanála. Importantly the Act states that such applications ‘shall’ be made to the Board and therefore there is no option involved in terms of lodging with the Council instead. Furthermore Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on March 6, 2017 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation;
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  • The recent Circular from the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D addressing the Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (“Rebuilding Ireland”) is of particular interest. Its sends out a clear message to local authorities around the country to meet the Government agenda in terms of using the planning system to facilitate new housing to meet current and pent-up demand.

    The Circular notes, inter alia, that:

    • all planning applications for scheme housing or activity relating to potential applications such as pre-planning consultations, must be afforded the highest priority by planning authorities.

    • In collaboration with the new Housing Delivery Office, the Department will be establishing, in conjunction with local authorities, appropriate monitoring systems to compare and contrast rates of further information requests and decision-making periods, as well as general response times to requests for pre-application meetings relating to housing scheme type proposals.

    • sites in key demand areas, that have been zoned for many years, are ready-to-go but are not being made available for development should be examined critically to determine whether other similar well-located and ready-to-go but unzoned lands should be considered as alternative zoned lands, where the prospects for making available for development of such alternative lands are better.

    • Local authorities are reminded that, where pressures exist, the development plan variation process provides a Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on August 5, 2016 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Guidelines;
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  • The new government action plan to address the housing crises has signalled the intention to allow for applications involving more that 100 houses to be submitted directly to An Bord Pleanala. It will be very interesting to see how this will work from a practical perspective. Will An Bord Pleanala now engage with applicants as part of a pre-planning process? How will they deal with technical aspects such as traffic and water services? Normally all these issues are ironed out before an application ends up with the Board or are at least significantly advanced. How long will the Board have to make a decision given they currently take a minimum of 18 weeks? Will there be any increase in Board members which is where the real bottleneck occurs in terms of making decisions? Will there be any appeal process if the applicant is not happy with the decision or will the only recourse be a judicial review?

    Published on July 22, 2016 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized; Tagged as: , ,
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  • The High Court has quashed the decision of An Bord Pleanala to grant permission for a windfarm development in Co. Clare following a case taken by a third party appellant. The High Court ruled that the Planning and Development Act requires that notice be given to the applicant, any person who made submissions, and any party to an appeal or referral, that a determination has been made that an appropriate assessment is required, complete with reasons as to why – but An Bord Pleanála failed to give reasons.

    Also, the High Court ruled that the An Bord Pleanala determination as to whether a development would adversely impact the integrity of a European site (appropriate assessment) was generic and amounted to only an assertion that ‘Having considered all the material put in front of it, the Board has reached the following conclusion…’. It did not satisfy the legal requirement, as established under Kelly v. An Bord Pleanála [2014] IEHC 400, which found that reasons must be given to enable interested parties and courts to assess the lawfulness of the decision. The Court found that “what is required of An Bord Pleanála are complete, precise and definitive findings and conclusions of a degree of specificity sufficient that a party minded to seek judicial review of such determination can turn readily to the particular observations, reasoning or conclusions in, say, a particular report or text to which reference is made, rather than simply being told that somewhere in an ocean of documentation is some stream of logic that An Bord Pleanála favours”.

    The result of this High Court decision is that Orders issued by An Bord Pleanala are now likely to be more detailed with very precise reasoning included, particularly in respect of appropriate assessment. Given the limited number of persons on the Board and the time involved in drafting such Orders this will place more pressure on the Board and possibly delay other decisions longer.

    Published on June 22, 2016 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • An Board Pleanala made an interesting decision recently regarding the continuation of a gaming & amusement arcade they had previously granted on a temporary basis, refusing it this time around even though there was no change in planning policy.

    The applicant sought continuation of existing gaming & amusement arcade at ground floor permitted under Board reference PL35.240508 at 46 Leinster Street, Athy, Co. Kildare. The Board had previously granted a temporary 3 year permission for use as a gaming and amusement arcade.

    The building in which the use exits was formerly known as Hibernian Bank, and then it was used as insurance offices. It is a five bay three storey terrace building with an ornate design and granite finish. The site is located within an Architectural Conservation Area, and the building is a protected structure.

    There had been an issue about compliance with a condition of the original permission regarding signage. Under the proposal a partially frosted window with minimal signage was proposed.
    Kildare County Council refused permission.

    In a first party appeal to An Bord Pleanala the appellant Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on February 26, 2016 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions;
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  • An Bord Pleanala recently considered an appeal from local elected representatives and a local residents association to grant partial permission for a housing scheme of 74 units (58 permitted) close to Adamstown in Lucan, South County Dublin. The appeal site was zoned residential and their Inspector noted it appears to be the last zoned site of significant size in this area outside of the Adamstown STZ.

    The Inspector noted that the original proposed development was for 74 units, which equates to a density of just under 30 per hectare. The 54 units granted equates to 24 units per hectare. The 69 units requested by the applicant in his appeal is 28 units per hectare. All these figures were deemed to be far below the ‘minimum’ of 50 units set out in Policy H4 and the related 2009 Guidelines, and very far below the overall density targets in the nearby STZ.

    The Inspector therefore concluded that “the use of the site for residential development is in accordance with the zoning objective of the site, but subject to a density requirement of a minimum of 50 dwelling units per hectare, and in accordance with the detailed design and amenity standards as set out in the development plan (section 1.4), the 2009 Sustainable Residential Guidelines, DMURS and other related national and regional guidance … I can see no justification set out in any of the documents that would permit such a significant departure from the policy objectives set out in the development plan and in national statutory guidance”

    The Board Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on January 14, 2016 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions;
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  • The Government yesterday (21st December 2015) published updated guidelines on apartment standards – Sustainable Urban Housing: Design Standards for New Apartments.

    The new guidelines contain specific national planning policy requirements that will take precedence over policies and objectives of development plans, local area plans or strategic development zone planning schemes and will apply to all housing developments, whether public or private.

    The updated 2015 guidelines will be supported by legislation under the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2015 and will be the first set of Ministerial Guidelines issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended by the 2015 Act above which enables the Minister to set out ‘specific planning policy requirements’ which must be applied by planning authorities in the exercise of their functions.

    The updated 2015 apartment guidelines retain the minimum floor area standards that were set nationally in 2007 but require, for the first time, that the majority of apartments in an apartment scheme exceed the minimum floor area standard in the previous 2007 guidelines, by at least 10%.

    The updated guidelines introduce studio units as a possibility(min. 40sq.m), but only in managed, build-to let developments of over 50 units in certain circumstances.

    The updated guidelines also: Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on December 22, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Guidelines; Tagged as:
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  • The Government have published arrangements for the preparation of a National Planning Framework (15.12.15) as the overall strategic planning and development strategy for the country, including regional and local level planning and to be adopted by Dáil Éireann in line with provisions of the Planning Bill.

    The National Planning Framework will replace the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) which dates from 2002. As the highest level planning policy document for the country, the new Framework will provide a long term vision to guide future development and investment decisions and will also co-ordinate new regional assembly strategies and local authority county development plans.

    The Roadmap document sets out the role of the NPF as the overarching 20 year framework for spatial planning and regional development for regional and local authorities and An Bord Pleanála in their statutory planning functions. The NPF will also inform longer term investment in both physical infrastructure such as transport, housing, water services, energy, communications and social infrastructure relating to education and health.

    The NPF will have a high-level national focus. Concurrent within the NPF drafting process, new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies (RSES) will be prepared by the three new Regional Assemblies to replace the current set of seven Regional Planning Guideline documents which expire in 2016. These new RSES’s will have a 12 year lifespan to 2028. The combined purpose of the NPF and RSESs is to set long-term national and regional development frameworks to ensure proper planning and sustainable development in an optimal manner.

    Published on December 21, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Guidelines; Tagged as:
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  • The Government have published (15.12.15) a Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2015 which will provide for the establishment of an independent “Office of the Planning Regulator” to maintain a constant watch over the general systems and procedures employed by planning authorities, including An Bord Pleanála and to examine and report on the content of development plans, including zoning practices of local authorities.

    The primary purpose of the Bill is to provide a legislative basis for the establishment and operation of the independent Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) which was the main recommendation of the Mahon Tribunal of Inquiry into certain planning matters and payments. Under the provisions of the Bill, the OPR will be:

    • fully independent of the Department in its day to day operations;
    • responsible for the independent assessment of all local authority and regional assembly forward planning, including the zoning decisions of local authority members in local area and development plans, to ensure compliance with relevant national and/or regional policy;
    • empowered to review the organisations, systems and procedures used by any planning authority or An Bord Pleanala in the performance of any of their planning functions under the Planning Act, including potential systemic risks of corruption and on foot of individual complaints from members of the public; and
    • enabled to drive a national research, education and public information programme on proper planning and sustainable development, and to highlight the role and benefit of planning.
    Among the other revisions to the Planning and Development Act incorporated in the Bill are provisions for:
    • a legislatively defined approach to the development of a successor strategy to the National Spatial Strategy (Mahon recommendation Number 1),
    • enhanced transparency in the planning process with submissions and observations received in respect of development plans and local area plans having to be published on planning authorities’ websites (Mahon recommendation Number 5),
    • the Chief Executive’s report on such submissions also to be published on the website of the relevant planning authority (Mahon recommendation Number 5),
    • the forwarding of any proposed grants of planning permission Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on December 21, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as:
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  • The An Bord Pleanala Annual Report and Accounts 2014 was published at the end of September 2015. It provides a useful insight to the workings of the Board in the current climate and the patterns that are emerging. Some of the key elements of the report are as follows.

    The intake of all planning cases in 2014 remained low and static at 1,810 compared to 1,814 in 2013. This reflects continued low levels of activity in the construction and development sectors. The Report notes that “While there are reports of an upturn in the economy, the impact in terms of an expected increase in levels of planning appeals and cases before An Bord Pleanála has not materialised as yet”.

    For normal planning appeals, which constitute the bulk of casework, 83% were disposed within the statutory objective period of 18 weeks in 2014, versus a target of 70-80%.

    An Bord Pleanála disposed of Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on October 20, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Reports; Tagged as: ,
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  • The Urban and Regeneration and Housing Act which was signed into law in July 2015 came into force on 1st September 2015. Key provisions include:

    Revision of Part V arrangements (applying to developments of 10 + houses with 10% social housing requirement).

    Retrospective application of reduced development contribution charges where planning permission granted prior to new development contribution scheme with reduced charges but was not acted upon

    Introduction of a vacant site levy to encourage development of vacant sites in central urban areas

    Published on September 18, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized; Tagged as:
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  • The Regulation of Lobbying Register came into effect yesterday (1st September 2015). Communications with public officials or representatives regarding the zoning or development of land must be recorded from that date. Such representatives include elected members of local authorities, Chief Executive Officers and Directors of Services, although it does not appear to mention local authority planners.

    Under the Guidelines which can be found on written submissions to a local authority as part of the formal consultation process is not lobbying; it is only communications with a designated public official outside the formal consultation process about a development plan or local area plan concerning a zoning that may be classified as lobbying.

    Making a planning application or making a submission on a planning application does not constitute lobbying under the Guidelines; it is only when a communication is made with a Designated Pubic Official about a planning application which is outside of the formal planning process that lobbying may occur.

    The Guidelines also clarify that communications seeking factual information from a local authority is not lobbying.

    Published on September 2, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as: , ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala has published the results of its IT customer survey. The Survey is available to view on the Board’s homepage. The Survey found, inter alia, that an overwhelming majority which to receive correspondence from An Bord Pleanála electronically; there is a need for improved search facilities; clarity is needed in terms of where a particular case is at any time; the ability to access cases received by the Board on-line would be beneficial; the ability to submit appeals etc on-line is strongly favoured and the need for a GIS based facility for spatial searches is also strongly favoured.

    Published on July 13, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized;
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  • The development is described as the partial change of use of the ground floor of an existing shop (in a protected structure) to use as a coffee shop. The shop currently operates as an off-licence and the proposal is to retail different products and to use a portion of the ground floor as a coffee shop. Certain works would be required to facilitate the development.

    The ground floor consists of a retail area of 18.3m2. The coffee sales area would occupy an area of 2.1 m2 within the existing retail unit.

    The Council concluded that the coffee shop element was unrelated to and would not be subsidiary to the primary retail use and that planning permission is required.

    The Inspector noted that the Board has adjudicated on a number of similar cases (RL 3023, RL 2941, RL 2940 and RL 2516), which are relevant in the consideration of the current proposal. Each of these cases involved either the partial use of an existing retail area for use as a coffee shop/coffee sales area (RL 3023 and RL 2941) or the change of use of the entire floor area (PL2940 and RL 2516). In each of these cases the Board concluded that a ‘coffee shop’ constituted use as a ‘shop’ as defined in article 5 and did not constitute a material change of use and was not ‘development’.

    It is also worth noting two cases where the Board reached a different conclusion (RL 2221 and RL 2939). The former related to the change of use of a shop unit within an existing shopping centre to use a restaurant and the latter related to the change of use from retail clothing use to coffee shop/bistro restaurant. In these cases the entire unit was converted to a restaurant with seating.

    The Inspector concluded that Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on June 12, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development;
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  • A number of important deadlines for Development Plans in the Leinster area are currently nearing:

    Draft Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan 2016-2022. Closing date for submissions is 11th May 2015

    Review of Fingal Development Plan 2017-2023. Closing date for submissions is 15th May 2015

    Review of Kildare County Development Plan 2011 – 2017. Closing date for submissions is 29th May 2015

    Double check all submissions dates on Council websites.

    Published on April 22, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized;
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  • Details published by An Bord Pleanala on their website (20th February 2015) show that the percentage of normal appeal cases being dealt with within the statutory 18 week period has increased to 83% in 2014, having been as low as 36% in 2012. The statistics also show that the number of normal appeals coming before the Board dropped from a high of 5,891 in 2007 down to 1,383 in 2014 (similar to the 2013 figure). It will be interesting to see if there is a significant increase in the figures for 2015 given the increased number of applications coming before local authorities.

    Published on March 19, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Comments on Planning;
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  • A question was put to An Board Pleanala by Kilkenny County Council as to whether the intensification of use of Kilkenny Airfield for sponsored parachute jumping is or is not development and is or is not exempted development.

    There is currently a grassed landing strip measuring approximately 900 m on the site.

    The submission from Kilkenny County Council noted that Kilkenny Airfield was established in the early 1960s and an airfield was first licensed in April 1965. It is the contention of the planning authority that due to the frequency of the parachuting trips and the number of people involved that there is an impact on the surrounding environment in terms of residential amenity, and traffic and that the intensification is affecting the proper planning and sustainable development of the area to such an extent that it can be considered material in planning terms.

    The observers to the assessment drew the attention of the Board to the increase in noise results from skydiving planes climbing at high revs to heights suitable for skydiving and other noise associated with skydiving activities, increased traffic on the cul de sac road.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on February 25, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • The General Scheme of the Planning and Development No.1 and No.2 Bills of 2014 have been agreed by government and published.

    The General Scheme of the Planning No.1 Bill deals with review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, vacant site levy, reduced development contributions for planning permissions yet to be activated and modification of duration of planning permissions in certain circumstances.

    The main provision in the General Scheme of the Planning No.2 Bill relates to the establishment of the Office of the Planning Regulator whose primary functions will include the assessment and evaluation of local area plans, local development plans and regional spatial and economic strategies, the provision of education and research on planning related matters, as well as investigative powers to review the organisation, systems & procedures applied by planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála in the performance of their planning functions. The General Scheme will also Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on January 30, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation;
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  • In a recent court judgment at the end of 2014, O’Griana v An Bord Pleanala, Cork Co Council and Framore Limited, Justice Peart ruled that planning permission should not be granted for an windfarm project requiring a grid connection unless the grid connection details are provided in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.

    The case related to a 6 turbine wind farm in at Réidh na nDoirí, Ballingeary, Co. Cork and is one of many wind farm permissions which are currently being challenged in the courts.

    To date planning authorities have accepted developers’ claims that details from ESB Networks are often not available at the time of planning and this element can be dealt with via a separate application subsequent to the application for the wind farm itself.

    Essentially Justice Peart quashed the decision of An Board Pleanala to grant permission on the basis of ‘project splitting’, which is a recognised term for dividing up the true extent of a development. The grid connection for the proposed wind farm was considered to be an integral part of the project and the wind farm could not be dealt with as a stand-alone project in respect of EIA.

    This decision could yet be appealed.

    Published on January 5, 2015 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Court Cases, Green Energy; Tagged as: , ,
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