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  • An Bord Pleanala have refused permission for 11 no. turbines in Ardglass, East Cork, by Order dated 2nd December 2014. The turbines would have measured 156m (the Spire in Dublin is approx. 120m). A number of sources have quoted these turbines as being the tallest on-shore turbines proposed in Ireland.

    The Board refused permission having regard to:
    (a) the Cork County Development Plan 2009- 2015,
    (b) the Wind Energy Guidelines 2006,
    (c) the number, scale and height of the proposed turbines,
    (d) the location of the site in a quiet rural elevated upland plateau, and
    (e) the lack of significant landscape features in the area,
    stating that they were not satisfied that on the basis of the documentation submitted that the proposed development, by reason of the open and exposed nature of the receiving landscape, and by reason of proximity to noise sensitive receptors, would not result in serious injury to the visual and residential amenities of the area.

    The Board was also not satisfied that the planning application would not have a significant adverse impact on the ecology of the area, including protected species, and that insufficient information was contained within the file to allow it to conduct a screening for Appropriate Assessment.

    Finally, the Board also considered that Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on December 9, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , ,
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  • A question arose as to whether or not works undertaken to an outbuilding adjacent to a protected structure can be classified as exempted development at Erin Lodge, Athy Road, County Carlow.

    The structure which is the subject of the referral is located within the garden of a dwellinghouse, which is listed on the record of protected structures in the Carlow Town Development Plan. The outbuilding is a small pitched roof stone structure with an elongated lean-to shed to the immediate rear.

    The works undertaken included the replacement of an existing metal sheet roof with a new metal sheet roof; plastering and the incorporation of a new window opening on the southern elevation at first floor level.
    Carlow Town Council determined that the works undertaken at the outbuilding constitute development which was not exempted development. The owner/occupier of the residential dwelling and outbuilding referred the question to An Board Pleanala.

    The grounds for referral included, inter alia, the building is not listed in the Development Plan as a protected structure. The listing in the Development Plan must be informative and must therefore refer to all the physical structures which it is intended to protect. The Act requires that every protected structure be included in the record of protected structures. The works undertaken at the shed cannot be considered to be unauthorised development. The works were necessary to protect the building from endangerment.

    An Board Pleanala’s Senior Planning Inspector noted that Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on December 5, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: ,
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  • Mr. Alan Kelly T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, has announced significant reforms of the planning system as part of the forthcoming Planning No.1 Bill. The new reforms include new Part V requirements for developers, the introduction of a vacant site levy and ‘Use it or Lose it’ clauses with planning permissions.

    The new Part V proposals will require developers to provide up to 10% of their housing units for social housing and the legislation will remove the ability of developers to account for their social housing commitments through cash payments to local authorities. The proposals will furthermore ensure that the social housing units will be located predominantly on the site of the original developments.

    The new legislation will also see the introduction of a vacant site levy whereby local authorities, in urban centres of greater than 3,000 population, will have the power to apply levies to property owners who leave their sites vacant and underutilised. The proposed levy will work by applying an annual levy at a rate of 3% of the market value to the site if the owner does not take steps to develop the site. Once in place, local authorities will have the power to apply such levies to vacant sites in areas designated for priority development under their respective local development plans.

    The Bill will also Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on October 2, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as: , ,
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  • A report prepared by Future Analytics Ltd for the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has found that there is sufficient land in the Dublin Region to accommodate over 100,000 dwelling units but only a minimal amount of this land has the benefit of planning permission for residential development.

    The key findingss of the report are:

    There are 2,233 hectares (ha) of land zoned and potentially available for residential development, which is 2.4% of the total land area in the Dublin Region.

    This zoned land can deliver approximately 102,500 additional housing units under the minimum recommended density scenario.

    This can result in the provision of housing for approximately 269,000 additional persons.

    There is a minimum housing unit requirement of 35,433 between 2014 – 2018. However, currently there is only a total of granted (extant) planning permissions for 26,580 units, resulting in a shortfall of 8,853 units over the ?ve-year period.

    A breakdown of the figures in the report show that Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council have a serious deficit in terms of the amount of dwelling units which have permission on zoned land, relative to the minimum housing demand. Both Fingal and Dunlaoghaire Rathdown in contrast are in far healthier positions.


    Published on September 26, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Reports; Tagged as:
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  • Recently, there have been a number of judicial reviews sought to quash decisions by An Bord Pleanala to grant permission for wind farms, including cases where the Board’s inspector recommended a refusal of permission.

    The High Court quashed an An Bord Pleanala decision to grant permission for a large wind farm development in Roscommon following a judicial review taken by local residents. The High Court ruled that An Bord Pleanala’s appropriate assessment did not meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive.

    The High Court recently granted leave for residents in west Clare to seek a judicial review of the An Bord Pleanala decision to grant permission for four 85-metre high wind turbines in the Milltown Malbay area of Co Clare. Leave has been granted on multiple grounds including failure to carry out a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA).

    A couple in Cork have been granted leave from the High Court to seek a judicial review to quash An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant permission to Cleanrath Windfarm Ltd to construct 11 turbines up to a height of 126m.

    Laois wind awareness group, People Over Wind, have been granted leave to appeal an An Bord Pleanála ruling in the High Court, over the approval of an 18 turbine windfarm proposed on Coillte owned land in Cullenagh.

    These judicial reviews, although very expensive to take, should hopefully provide a degree of clarity concerning some of the primary issues concerning windfarm development as many would argue that the national planning guidelines are quite vague and open to a wide range of interpretation.

    Published on September 23, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy; Tagged as: ,
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  • A question came before An Board Pleanála as to whether the occasional, infrequent and informal use of part of an equestrian centre as a dining area ancillary to a principal equestrian use, is or is not development or is or is not exempted development.

    The subject case relates to a 20 year old indoor portal framed arena which is part of wider complex of buildings and equestrian facilities in a rural area on the outskirts of Mullingar town. The original planning permission did not include any kitchen or dining facility. The referring party stated that the purposes of dining facilities were for patrons of the equestrian facility during occasional events.

    The planning authority considered that a material change of use is involved referring to lack of provision for such a use in the planning permission, the use is advertised on the website for the centre and the intensity of the use during event and summer camps.

    The An Board Pleanala Inspector noted that while it is clear that a restaurant use is a separate class of use to an equestrian facility there is scope to consider the development within the totality of the use of the site i.e. the character of the use of land is determined by its primary use and not by parts of its use. The key issue for the Inspector was determining the material nature of the change of use. The capacity of the site to absorb the development was assessed therefore having regard to potential injury of amenity, traffic safety and public health.

    The Inspector formed the view that Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on August 11, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • The High Court has quashed planning permissions for a 33 turbine wind farm development in Roscommon following a judicial review brought by local residents.

    The main issue was compliance with the Habitats Directive. The Judge ruled that the appropriate assessment carried out by the Board was not lawfully conducted and did not meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive. A determination has still to be made regarding costs and whether the planning application should be sent to An Bord Pleanala for reconsideration. The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht had expressed concern about the developments on environmental grounds.

    The Board’s inspector had recommended a refusal on the basis of the proximity to the Lough Croan Turlough Special Area of Conservation and Lough Croan Turlough SPA and recommended the Board refuse permission on the basis of the hydrological impacts on karst limestone and underlying groundwater system in an area of known flooding and concerns about migratory water bird species that use the area as part of their wintering range.

    Published on July 31, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Court Cases; Tagged as: ,
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  • The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD recently published the Registration of Lobbying Bill 2014, the purpose of which, is to establish a web based register of lobbying activity and provide transparency on who is contacting whom about what.

    The listed lobbying activities include anyone who makes any relevant communications about the development or zoning of land under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2014 including those paid by a client to lobby on the clients behalf. Therefore planning consultants (as well as other professions who engage in such submissions) will likely have to register on the lobbying register as its stands.

    Once registered, the lobbyist will have to make a return of their lobbying activities 3 times a year.

    Published on July 14, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as:
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  • An Bord Pleanala have granted planning permission to Coillte Teoranta for an 18 turbine windfarm near Ballyroan village in County Laois, despite significant local objections, the Council refusing permission, the Board’s inspector recommending refusal and concerns raised by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht regarding protected species.

    Laois County Council had refused permission on the basis of the inadequacy of information received in the EIS and the potential impact on Natura 200 sites.

    The An Bord Pleanala Inspector recommended refusal on the basis of visual impact arising from excessive quantity and overall height of the turbines, the overbearing impact on the residents of in the vicinity and the absence of detailed information showing haul routes.

    The Board however granted permission noting Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on June 19, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • Two new appointments were made to An Bord Pleanala during May 2014.

    Philip Jones is a professional town/spatial planner. He has a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UCD, and a Diploma in Legal Studies from DIT. He is a Fellow of the Irish Planning Institute, and served as its President for two terms in 1999 – 2001. Philip has 34 years’ experience as a planner in a variety of public sector organisations, having served as Assistant Planner and then City Planner for Waterford City Council for 6 years, County Planner for Kildare County Council for 13 years, and worked with An Bord Pleanála since 1999, initially as Senior Planning Inspector and from 2007 as Assistant Director of Planning.

    Paul Hyde (BSc. Arch, MA, MPlan, MRIAI, RIBA) was the managing partner of the Hyde Partnership, a multi disciplinary design and planning practice until his appointment to the Board. He holds degrees in both Architecture and Planning & Sustainable Development. A professional member of the RIAI, RIBA and IPI professional institutes, he has over 16 years of professional experience relating to the built environment and both terrestrial and coastal development and spatial planning. Paul has also attended a program at Harvard Business School in the area of effective corporate governance. He is currently undertaking an additional masters degree in Marine Spatial Planning. Prior to this appointment, in addition to his role in the Hyde Partnership he has held a number of committee memberships including; The Irish Planning Institute, Southern Branch and The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland, Southern Branch and he was a member of Cork Chamber of Commerce.

    There are now 9 members on the Board including the Chairperson, with each ordinary member holding office for 5 years (Chairperson 7 years).

    Source: An Bord Pleanala Website as updated on 16th May 2014

    Published on May 29, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Uncategorized; Tagged as:
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  • The newly amended Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive which came into force on the 15th May 2014 seeks to offer better protection for the environment while also reducing administrative burdens.

    Based on the experience of the first 25 years of the Directive the new Directive seeks to address some of the more problematic areas and provide a more streamlined process.

    The key amendments are as follows: Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on May 19, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Legislation; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • This Government Strategy seeks to addresses housing, property and construction in a co-ordinated manner. One of the main themes is that of planning with the strategy recognising that the absence of good planning and strategic thinking in past years has served Ireland and its citizens badly.

    The goal is “to secure a proactive approach to planning, in which planning authorities actively engage with land and property owners, Approved Housing Bodies, and infrastructure providers in securing agreed planning goals and outcomes”. This would certainly make for a welcome change from the current situation where many developers and their agents feel that they are battling with the planners rather than working with them.
    It is noted that the following measures are to be introduced:

    • A National Planning Framework (presumably replacing the National Spatial Strategy)
    • A new Planning Bill
    • A new Policy Statement on Planning
    • An Office of Planning Regulation

    The following changes are also to be introduced: Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on May 15, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Reports; Tagged as: ,
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  • A question I’m often asked by architects is if they can make amendments to a proposed development as part of a first party appeal. The simple answer is yes; but it is qualified by the fact that the amendments must be of a nature that the Board could have applied by condition. In other words, if the amendments were of a significant nature and substantially altered the proposed development the Board cannot take these into consideration as third parties had no opportunity to comment on them. It is only in instances where the amendments are of a relatively minor nature and could have been conditioned that the Board will accept them. Each case is assessed on its merits by the Board and the Board will always notify appellants who include amendments in the letter of acknowledgement that amendments may not be taken into consideration pending assessment.

    In fact, even in cases where the Board’s own inspectors recommend a grant of permission subject to design alternations, the Board can subsequently form the view that these alterations are too radical and cannot be addressed by a planning condition. The Board are aware that a condition of this nature involves agreement with the local authority only and does not have any third party. Therefore they have to consider to what extent changes or amendments can be allowed.

    A typical example of this was the recent decision by the Board in respect of a mixed use development including retail and student accommodation, at a protected structure on 1-6 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. The inspector recommend a grant of permission including a condition which required a series of design amendments including the omission of an apartment; extension of a retail unit or similar use to fill the void; relocation of the bicycle storage room; recessing the front elevation and recessing the sixth floor of the three east-west block; replacing an grafitti wall with a plinth wall and amending the elevations of these blocks to provide a more light-weight approach incorporating curtain walling and incorporating articulation to break up the overall mass of the blocks and to provide a more vertical emphasis. The Board however refused permission partly relating to these specific issues. The Board’s Direction noted that the amendments suggested by the Inspector would “radically transform the building” and “were too great to be addressed by condition”.

    Published on May 13, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Comments on Planning; Tagged as: ,
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  • Eamon (Ted) Kelly, chairman of the Wind Turbine Action Group South Roscommon is seeking a Judicial Review of an An Bord Pleanala decision to grant planning permission for two wind farm developments in County Roscommon. The Judicial Review is being sought on the basis that An Bord Pleanála failed to specify why it approved permission for the wind farm close to special areas of protection and conservation in Co Roscommon, when two of its own inspectors recommended permission be refused.

    Leave for a Judicial Review has to be granted by the High Court in the first instance and this was obtained by the action group in November 2013. A Judicial Review of a decision by a planning authority focuses on the procedures involved in arriving at the determination rather than the decision itself. As such it is generally accepted that there is a very high bar to win any such review. However, Judicial Reviews are also very expensive and therefore they tend only to be taken when there are very strong grounds for argument.

    Published on May 8, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Court Cases, Green Energy; Tagged as: ,
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  • A report published today by the Government’s advisory body on housing, the Housing Agency, has projected the level of housing needed across the Republic in the next five years. The report forecasts a minimum required supply of 79,660 residential units in urban areas to support the population between 2014 and 2018, an average equivalent of 15,932. The per annum requirement across the country ranges from 9,526 units in 2014 to 20,853 units in 2018.

    47% (37,581 units) of total supply over the 5-year period is required across the Dublin Region, averaging 7,500 units per year.

    Outside of Dublin, the study identifies varying requirements across the other cities. In Cork City and suburbs rising to a per annum requirement of 1,469 units by 2018. There are close parallels in identified requirements in Galway and Limerick. Both cities will experience a shortfall in housing requirements in 2015 and require a total of 2,316 and 2,635 units respectively over the subsequent 4 years to 2018.

    Based on projected population growth, Waterford will have a supply requirement from 2017 and Kilkenny has an immediate supply shortfall.

    Elsewhere, trends highlight that some areas are adequately catered for, while other areas are not. There are pronounced requirements in settlements such as Drogheda Town and Dundalk over the next 5 years. Shortfalls are also predicted in Athlone, Ennis, and Edenderry .

    The study also considered household sizes into the future in the Dublin region and found that over the next 4 years, 57% of new households will be 1 or 2 persons and a further 18% will be 3 person households. Three quarters of all households over the period to 2018 will be for three people or less.

    The latter finding is of particular interest given the anecdotal evidence that the trend in planning applications is back toward larger, family sized housing.

    Published on April 15, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Residentail; Tagged as: ,
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  • Draft Kerry County Development Plan 2015-2021.
    Closing date for Submission 7 Apr 2014

    Draft Leitrim County Development Plan 2015-2021
    Closing date for Submission 11 Apr 2014

    Material amendments to the Draft Cavan County Development Plan 2014-2020
    Closing date for Submission 17 Apr 2014

    Draft Galway County Development Plan 2015-2021
    Closing date for Submission 9 May 2014

    Intention to Prepare a new Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Development Plan 2016–2022
    Closing date for Submission 14 May 2014

    Please double check closing date if making a submission.

    Published on March 25, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Development Plan Notices; Tagged as: ,
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  • The Molloy Case (Molloy & Ors – v – The Minister for Justice, 2004) found that in circumstances where a planning permission is capable of being implemented and there has been no material structural alteration to the land or property which would render the planning permission incapable of being implemented, a valid planning permission cannot be lost or abandoned. So, for example, in a situation where a planning permission was granted for a car dealership but that use ceased for a period having been implemented, the use as a car dealership can be reawakened if there has been no material structural alteration to the premises.

    A question recently came before the Board as to whether the resumption of a former fuel service station use at Cloncollig Commercial Park, Tullamore, County Offaly is or is not development or is or is not exempted development. The Molloy case was relied upon by the referrer but the Board found that the principles of Molloy did not apply and that the use as a petrol station had been abandoned.

    The lands in question had an authorised use as a filling station permitted and enacted pursuant to planning permission granted in 2001. Planning permission was subsequently granted in 2006 for the demolition of existing structures on site and the redevelopment of the site for a motor retail outlet although the Board were not clear if this planning permission was implemented.

    The Board noted Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on March 25, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Exempted Development, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions;
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  • The Irish Planning Institute’s National Planning Conference 2014 is to take place in Limerick in the Strand Hotel, on the 10th and 11th April 2014. The conference is entitled ’50 Years of Planning: Time to lead changed and plan for growth’. The conference aims to facilitate discussion around changing role of planning and will reflect on the past 50 years of planning since the commencement of the Republic’s 1963 Local Government (Planning & Development) Act, while also looking forward to the future of planning and the profession in Ireland and abroad.
    Contact the IPI for further information

    Published on February 26, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Conferences; Tagged as: ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala have refused permission to demolish an abattoir and construct an Equestrian Tourism Facility in the grounds of Turnings House outside Straffan in County Kildare. The proposal involved an equestrian tourism building incorporating a language school for foreign students with overnight accommodation for up to 60 students and staff, along with 40 stables and associated equestrian works.

    This was a second attempt by the applicants who had previously been refused permission by the Board for reasons relating to flooding, assimilative capacity of a nearby river and unsustainable form of development at this location given the constraints of the surrounding area. An in-between application has been refused by the Council. The proposal also included road improvements, 28 car parking spaces, three coach parking spaces, construction of flood berms, and associated works.

    Kildare County Council refused permission on the grounds Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on February 18, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions, Rural Planning; Tagged as:
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  • It has generally been held that varying a condition of a planning permission is not allowable on the basis that it does not constitute development in its own right. Therefore, in order to get around this issue, the practice has been to propose some minor development (usually works) and seek to vary the condition of planning as part of the application. However, a recent decision by An Bord Pleanala means that there are circumstances where a planning application to vary a condition alone may be sufficient.

    The case involves an application to Dun Laoghaire County Council seeking variation of a condition of a planning permission (previously granted by An Bord Pleanala) to remove the restrictions on the occupancy, leasing, sale or other disposal of the existing Commissioners of Irish Lights office building at Harbour Road, Co. Dublin. Due to changing circumstances there has been a significant reduction in manpower and as a consequence there is spare capacity in the building for parties other than the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

    The Council granted permission which included a condition which stated that there was no restriction on the ground floor office use of the building; the office use did not have to relate to the Commissioners of Irish Lights. This decision was then appealed to An Bord Pleanala by a third party.

    The appellants planning consultant argued that Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on February 12, 2014 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as:
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