Having considered the potential impacts on the effective operation of planning system from the most recent advice regarding actions of the public and workers for whom it is not essential to leave home to work, the Minister has commenced Section 9 of the recently enacted Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid 19) Act 2020. This section inserts a new provision (Section 251A) into the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended. The provisions are modelled on similar provisions in the planning laws that cover the Christmas period.
The Government has made an order under Section 251A(4), to the effect that the period from 29th March 2020 to the 20th April 2020, inclusive, may be disregarded when calculating any appropriate period, specified period, or other timelines in the following Acts, or provisions, or in any regulations made under those acts or provisions:-
- The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended;
- The Derelicts Sites Act, 1990;
- Part 2 of the Urban Regenerations and Housing Act, 2015 (which relates to the vacant site levy);
- Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, 2016 (which relates the Strategic Housing Developments).
In practical terms this means that a planning authority will have the normal period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to three weeks and two days i.e. up to eleven weeks and two days in total, to determine a planning application. The exact calculation of the extended time period will depend on the date a planning application is submitted and the stage of the process it is at. Likewise, in the case of all applications made within the duration of the Order, the public may make a submission for a further five-week period, to Monday 25th May 2020.
The effect of the activation of this provision does not freeze the planning system, rather it extends the timelines within which decisions can be made for a period of 23 days. Local authority public offices and the Offices of An Bord Pleanála are remaining open to the greatest extent possible, subject to adherence to HSE guidelines on physical distancing and any local arrangements around managed access. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and his Department have been engaging with the local authority sector to ensure that their critical processes are identified in business continuity planning and maintained as a critical service. The Minister has also engaged with An Bord Pleanála and the Office of the Planning Regulator regarding their business continuity arrangements.
For further information on the planning consultancy advice and services that MKO can provide you in relation to the implications of the proposed legislation on your development projects, contact our office on 091 735 611.
For further details on the legislation see: