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Public participation period in the planning system extended

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Ireland

On Sunday 29 March 2020 the Government, at the request of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government agreed to make an order which has the effect of extending statutory public participation periods in the planning system for a period of three weeks (23 days).

Although the announcement does not expressly refer to the legislative basis, it is clear that it is an extension period as provided for in section 9 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020.

The Minister indicated that applications can be made by post, with submissions accepted by both post and electronic means. He noted that most local authorities have on-line systems for inspecting applications. The extended time will also apply to planning appeals, which An Bord Pleanála will continue to receive by post.

This will impact on the time taken to process planning applications, in the following ways:
 
  • If an application was lodged before 21 February 2020, the public participation phase is completed, and so a planning authority can make a decision within the extended deadline;
  • If an application was lodged after that date, but before 29 March 2020, the decision cannot be made until after 20 April 2020 to ensure that the public participation element has been completed;
  • If an application is lodged after 29 March 2020, it cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until the five-week period for public consultation on the application commences, which will now be after 20 April 2020.
The announcement can be viewed here. There is provision in the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020 for this 23 day period to be further extended and it remains to be seen whether this will be required as matters develop.
 

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