The Government has agreed to immediate changes in the planning application process necessitated by the Covid-19 emergency.
In an incorporeal meeting of Cabinet (by teleconference) on Sunday, the Government approved a request by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to extend the period of public participation in planning applications by three weeks. The move is designed to prevent the planning and development processes from shutting down immediately because of the outbreak.
It was also decided that any public meetings associated with planning, or an appeal, will be deferred until the period of restricting the movement of the public has come to an end.
The technical change, which will also apply to appeals to An Bord Pleanála, required Cabinet approval before it could be implemented.
In a statement, Mr Murphy said the very severe restrictions on the movement of people has had an impact on their ability to participate in the planning system.
“Given these new restrictions on the movement of people, it is important to extend the public participation periods in the planning system, to ensure that the integrity of decision-making is upheld, and to ensure that plan making for new development can continue. “Work will continue through these new restrictions so that the planning system is well placed to play its vital role in supporting the recovery.”
Mr Murphy said applications could now be made by post, with submissions accepted both by post and electronically. He said most local authorities have on-line systems for inspecting applications. He said the extension of three weeks also applies to planning appeals to An Bord Pleanála.
He said the orders would “add 23 days to the statutory time periods for processing planning applications within the Planning Acts. This is to reflect the period up to Easter Sunday, during which time people have been asked to stay at home.”
The order will apply to any application lodged after February 21st. Effectively it means a decision will not be made until after April 20th, to ensure the public participation element has been completed.
Any application made from this week on will not be decided until after April 20th.
“These are short-term but necessary accommodations to the planning processes to ensure that the planning system can continue to function and to ensure the integrity of decision-making in the weeks ahead,” he said.