Coronavirus: Department of Housing to extend planning permissions

Extra 23 days under Planning Act amendment to remove need to apply for extensions

Minister for Planning  Eoghan Murphy. A spokesman said: ‘The Minister made an order on March 29th extending all periods and timelines specified in the Planning Act by 23 days until April 20th.’ File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Planning Eoghan Murphy. A spokesman said: ‘The Minister made an order on March 29th extending all periods and timelines specified in the Planning Act by 23 days until April 20th.’ File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The Department of Housing has said it is preparing to issue a series of directives to local authorities to automatically extend the duration of existing planning permissions which might expire during the coronavirus pandemic.

With all construction work other than the delivery of infrastructure required in the fight against coronavirus halted by the Government’s restrictions, concerns had been expressed that a number of house-building and home-extension projects which had been under way could see their approvals lapse.

But while The Irish Times has been contacted by readers who have been told by their local authorities that they will be required to complete standard application forms seeking an “extension of duration of permission” which may or may not be granted, a spokesman for Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has confirmed that this will not be necessary.

In a statement on the matter, the Department of Housing said the Minister would be availing of the provision in the recently-introduced section 251A of the Planning Act 2000 to extend the duration of all existing planning permissions affected by the “application of restrictive measures during the current emergency”. The amendment to the planning act forms part of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act introduced by the Government on March 29th.

Referring to the immediate impact of the amendment on existing planning permissions, the statement said: “The Minister made an order on March 29th extending all periods and timelines specified in the Planning Act by 23 days until April 20th. This has the effect of freezing the periods and timelines specified in the Planning Act during the period of the order. In effect, an existing planning permission for five years has now been extended by a period of 23 days. These extension provisions have been notified to all planning authorities by way of circular letter PL 2 of 2020 and associated documentation.”

The Department of Housing’s spokesman said it was open to Mr Murphy to extend the duration of existing planning permissions by further defined periods in line with any additional restrictions the Government might impose between now and November 9th. This process can be “extended as many times as is necessary” until then, the spokesman said.

The emergency legislation introduced by the Government is time-limited and due to expire on November 9th. It is open to the Oireachtas to extend this should it need to.

Asked if there were any circumstances in which someone might need to apply to their local authority for an extension of duration of planning permission and have to pay the required €62 fee, the spokesman said: “An extension of duration application need only be made where the holder of the permission is of the view that the works will not be completed prior to the expiry of the permission, taking account of any extensions to the specified periods and timelines in the Planning Act which have been made by ministerial order.”