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Proposal to Suspend Time Limits in Planning System

Barry Magee
25/03/2020

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Ireland

The Government has published the 'Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020' which sets out how statutory deadlines in various pieces of legislation are to be dealt with during the National Emergency occasioned by Covid-19.

Matters relating to Planning and Development are dealt with under Part 3 where a new section – 251A – is inserted into the Planning and Development Act 2000.  This new section provides for an extension of any 'appropriate period, specified period or other time limit' referred to in any of the following Acts or provisions:-
 
  1. Planning and Development Act 2000,
  2. Certain sections of the Building Control Act 1990,
  3. The Derelict Sites Act 1990,
  4. Part 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015,
  5. Portions of the Strategic Housing legislation.
Time limits in any regulations made under those Acts or provisions are also covered.

The length of the extension is measured from when the Act comes into operation and ends on a date to be determined by the Government.  Initially, and immediately after the commencement of the section, the Government shall specify a date on which the period shall end.  This date may be further extended by the Government from time to time, but cannot extend beyond 9th November 2020.

Once commenced, this legislation will have the effect of effectively suspending all time limits within the planning system for a period of time.  This will include:
 
  1. Time limits for making appeals,
  2. Time limits for making submissions or observations,
  3. Time limits in deciding cases at Local Authority and An Bord Pleanála level.
  4. Time limits for enforcement,
  5. Time limits for brining judicial review proceedings,
The new section is modelled on the existing provision – S.251 – that disregards the Christmas period from calculating time limits.

It should be noted that these time limits are simply being extended.  Certain aspects of the system can still operate as normal.  For example, if An Bord Pleanála are considering an appeal and all documents and observations have been received, they can still issue their decision in the usual way.  Equally, anyone who wishes to make an observation on a pending application can still do so.

The main impact will be where a time limit has not yet expired.  The process will not be able to move on to the next stage until this emergency extension has expired.  For example, if An Bord Pleanála has received a Strategic Housing Development application, anyone wishing to make an observation usually has a period of 5 weeks in which to do so.  If that period has not expired, the Board cannot proceed to the next stage of the process and the entire process will effectively be paused until the emergency period ends.

Details are awaited as to what the initial emergency period will be.

The Bill can be accessed here.
 
 

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Areas of Expertise

Planning and Environmental