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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 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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  • 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 Supreme Court have unanimously ruled that An Bord Pleanala decisions become final only when they are put in formal writing in the form of an order and not when they are made at Board meetings, as was contended by An Bord Pleanala.

    This important clarification arose from two commercial developments whereby objectors has withdrawn appeals yet An Bord Pleanala continued to issue a decision on the appeal as the withdrawal occurred after the decision was made at the Board meeting.

    The decision means the two commercial developments, one in Wicklow and one in Wexford, can now proceed.

    Published on December 10, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Court Cases; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala have overturned the decision by Galway County Council to grant permission for a large-scale shopping complex outside Tuam, Co. Galway. 

    The applicant initially sought permission for a mixed use development (9,040 square metres gross) comprising anchor retail unit (4,300 square metres gross); 3 no. retail warehouse type units including DIY centre; drive-thru restaurant and ancillary development.  The scale was later reduced during the planning process.

    The Board agreed with their senior inspector’s recommendation that Having regard to the scale and location of the proposed development outside the town centre area, and to the strategy indicated in the current Tuam Local Area Plan to concentrate and consolidate commercial activity in the town centre, the proposed development, would seriously injure the vitality and viability of the town centre of Tuam. 

    The Board did not support the view that the proposed development would undermine the LAP indicative objective of providing a neighbourhood centre of appropriate scale west of the N17 National primary Road, and adversely affect the strategic function of the said road.

    Published on February 15, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • A decision by Kildare County Council to grant planning permission for a dry-waste recovery/recycling management facility in Kilcullen Business Campus, Kilcullen, County Kildare has been overturned by An Bord Pleanala who refused permission.

    The applicant has sought permission for a dry-waste recovery/recycling management facility for inorganic waste material, including an End of Life Vehicle recovery facility, vehicle compactor, non ferrous metals store and associated works.  There was significant local opposition from residents in Kilcullen and they appealed Kildare County Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanala. 

    The Board’s inspector recommended that permission be refused and the Board agreed with this recommendation.  They refused permission for a total of 4 reasons.  The first reason related to the fact that the proposed development was not considered to be a light industrial use and would conflict with the planning authority’s objective for land use zoning (‘light industry and warehousing’). The second reason related to the impact of the proposed development on the amenities of residential property in the vicinity by reason of noise and general disturbance.  The third and fourth reasons related to insufficient information being provided in relation to traffic and groundwater pollution.

    Published on January 16, 2013 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions, Waste; Tagged as: , ,
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  • An application by EirGrid to construct a 40 kilometres power line (110 kilovolts) between Clashavoon and Dunmanway in West Cork has been approved by An Bord Pleanala despite significant local opposition and the advice of their own inspector to provide one third of the line underground.

    The powerline included 227 number structures, comprising 198 number double woodpole structures, nine number braced woodpole structures, and 20 number steel tower structures.

    An oral hearing into the application was held in November 2011 in the Macroom Castle Hotel.

    According to the An Board Pleanala Inspector the proposed power line runs across the rural landscape of west Cork “in a transitional area between the lush rolling pastures of central Cork and the more exposed uplands characterising the area west of Macroom”.

    The An Bord Pleanala Inspector agreed that the argument raised by some objectors in relation to excessive power provision relative to demand had substance.  However Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on November 1, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions, Rural Planning; Tagged as: , , , ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala have upheld the decision of Meath County Council to grant permission for a facility to manufacture biofuels (wood and energy crops) and a combined heat and power plant at Balrath Demense in County Meath, approximately 3 kilometres south west of Kells.source:

    A similar application was only recently refused by the Board.  However, the Board’s direction stated that whilst permission was being refused because of the inadequacies of the county road serving the existing facility, the proposed facility might justify an exemption to the usual restrictions on providing new entrances onto national roads in light of national policy on the development of alternative energy resources. Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on October 17, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Green Energy, Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions, Rural Planning; Tagged as: , ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala has released its Annual Report for 2011.  The report includes a number of interesting insights about the planning appeal system and the overall Irish planning system itself.

    There has been a continuation in the downward trend in the intake of cases, particularly planning appeals, with only 2,110 cases in 2011.  This compares with 4,562 cases in 2002 and a high of 6,664 cases in 2007.

    Overall, the number of appeals received as a percentage of planning authority applications was roughly 1 in every 10 (7.7%). Dublin City Council (14.9%), Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council (14.6%) and Cork City Council (12.4%) had the highest levels of decisions appealed. Areas with the highest rate of appealed decisions overturned by the Board were Leitrim County Council (75%), Wexford County Council (48.9%) and Laois County Council (43.5%).

    The rate of reversal of local planning authority decisions appealed showed a slight decrease with 31% of local authority decisions overturned in 2011 compared to 36% overturned in 2010.  Essentially however, the “1 in every 3” rule of thumb success rate remains valid in terms of an appeal against a local authority decision. Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on October 15, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Reports; Tagged as: , ,
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  • An Bord Pleanala have upheld the decision of Monaghan County Council to grant permission for a 24 hour lorry park at Clontibret, County Monaghan despite their inspector recommending a refusal.

    The proposed development included a filling station for cars and trucks, a two storey commercial building containing shop café restaurant/takeaway, offices and lounge/relax area for truck drivers. The scheme also proposed to treat effluent via an Integrated Constructed Wetland in order to address a previous refusal for a lorry park by An Bord Pleanala relating to the assimilative capacity of the adjoining stream to accept treated effluent from the proposed development.

    The Board’s Inspector was not convinced that wastewater generated by the proposed development can be satisfactorily treated by the wetland system and recommended a refusal.source:

    An Bord Pleanala did not support the inspector’s recommendation   however and granted permission. A critical element of the proposal from  the Board’s perspective was that it was predominantly within the development limit of Clontibret, which is identified as a village in the Monaghan County Development Plan 2007 – 2013.

      There have been a number of applications country-wide for truck parks and the majority have been refused by An Bord Pleanala.  The key difference with this truck park is that it was predominantly contained within a village boundary rather than an unserviced Greenfield rural location.

    Published on September 30, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • Leefield Ltd, SuperValu, Tramore, Co Waterford, has instigated proceedings against An Bord Pleanála seeking a judicial review of the Board’s decision to grant permission to O’Flynn Construction for the construction of a retail store, café, and staff facility near the former Murphy barracks at Ballincollig. Leefield Ltd runs a supermarket in Ballincollig and claims the Board’s decision is flawed and should be quashed as the Board failed to give proper reasons for granting permission and failed to address the loss of woodland that would occur if the development proceeded. The Board’s planning inspector had recommended that the planning application be refused.

    Published on September 11, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Court Cases; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • Since the issuing of notices to quarry owners and operators there has been a lot of queries about substitute consent, what it involves and what needs to be done next.

    The first decision that needs to be made if the Council have directed an owner/operator to apply to An Bord Pleanala for substitute consent is if the Council’s decision needs to be challenged. The owner/operator has 21 days from the notice to seek a review and this stops the clock in terms of the substitute consent deadline (12 weeks). The reason for seeking a review would want to be very solid as there is a risk that the Board could decide that the Council’s decision to require a substitute consent application was wrong. This could ultimately lead to the closure of the quarry.

    If the decision is to proceed with making a substitute consent application to An Bord Pleanala then further decisions need to be made about seeking a pre-planning meeting with An Bord Pleanala (no fee), scoping of the remedial EIS (significant fee) and the need to extend the 12 week period. The latter requires a genuine reason for an extension. The key issue is not to miss the deadline whether it be 12 weeks or the extended version as this would be fatal in terms of the application.

    Published on September 7, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Planning Guidelines, Rural Planning; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • A review of decisions on referrals (exemption applications) before An Bord Pleanala reveals that no actual decisions are being made.  The majority of decisions are actually confirmations of referrals which are invalid or where the Board deems they have no jurisdiction.  It would appear therefore that the recent appointment of new Board members is still struggling with the backlog of work and referrals are simply not a priority at this stage.


    Published on May 31, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Comments on Planning, Uncategorized; Tagged as: ,
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  • Finally the Environment Minister has made appointments to An Bord Pleanála.  The appointments include an architect, a former An Bord Pleanala inspector, an archaeologist/town planner along with an environmental engineer.  Hopefully this will now enable the Board to deal with the backlog of decisions currently before them. Given the need to promote development in the country at this time it seems crazy that the delay in appointing members was ever allowed to occur.

    Published on March 30, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Comments on Planning; Tagged as: ,
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  • Under the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) An Bord Pleanala provision is made for 9 members to sit on the Board in addition to the Chairperson.  However, as it currently stands there are only 4 members sitting on the Board, including the Chairperson.  In my experience the bottleneck at An Bord Pleanala in terms of getting decisions out within the 18 week period has always been down to the size of the Board.  The inspectors have their reports ready on time but there are only 10 people to adjudicate on every appeal in Ireland.  Given that this 10 has become 4 the bottleneck is only going to get worse, irrespective of the fact that the actual number of appeals coming before the Board is lower.  To put this in perspective Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on January 30, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Comments on Planning; Tagged as: , ,
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  • The development of the Dart Underground Electrified Heavy Railway from Inchicore to East Wall via the city centre was considered at a final board meeting on 7th December 2011.  The Board decided, unanimously, to grant the Railway Order, generally in accordance with the recommendation of the Inspector, and subject to modifications and conditions.

    The Board approved the Order as the proposal:

    (a) would provide strategic interconnection between existing and future public transportation systems thereby supporting improved integrated public transport in the wider Dublin region;

    (b) would address the disjointed nature of the national rail network converging on Dublin, enabling more efficient functioning of regional rail services;

    (c) would provide planning benefits and urban regeneration opportunities at the locations of new stations and in areas served by the alignment; Read the rest of this entry »

    Published on January 5, 2012 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , ,
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  • A large scale truck stop including a motel for truck drivers, 12 pump filling station, drive thru restaurant, driver resting area, picnic area etc at Carrickcarnon, Co, Louth has been refused permission by An Bord Pleanala.  Louth County Council had granted permission however the decision was appealed to the Board by third parties.  The truck stop was an off-line scheme but was quite close to the M1 motorway. 

    The Board refused permission inter alia on the basis of the scale of the development, the existing on-line M1 service stations, the rural location outside a settlement and the close proximity to an interchange.  The application was a revised version of an even larger scheme which had been refused by the Council.

    It is of note that the NRA had not objected to the scheme.

    Published on November 30, 2011 By:David Mulcahy · Filed under: Important An Bord Pleanala Decisions; Tagged as: , , , ,
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