On Sunday 29th March last the Government approved a number of orders, under Section 9 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid 19) Act 2020 relating to the periods for public consultation, exempted development and enforcement. The main change involved is the extension of the statutory public consultation periods in the Planning Acts by an additional 3 weeks and two days from the date of the order, covering the period to 20th April next. The impact on the time taken to process a planning application is as follows:
- If a planning application was lodged on or before 21st February last, the public participation phase is completed, and so Kilkenny County Council can make a decision within the extended deadline;
- If a planning application was lodged after that date, but before 29th March 2020, the decision cannot be made until after 20th April next to ensure that the public participation element has been completed;
- Any planning application lodged after 29th March cannot be decided by Kilkenny County Council until the five-week period for public consultation on the application has expired, which will now be 26th May next
- The 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.
Appeals to An Bord Pleanala:
- Decisions made by Kilkenny County Council may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. The appeal period is extended by the duration of the Order. During the period of the Order where the planning application was submitted to Kilkenny County Council at least five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the Order, an appeal may be made to An Bord Pleanála. The four-week period in which the appeal may be made, shall be extended by up to the period of duration of the Order remaining on the date of the decision.
The Order has the effect of extending the timelines within which decisions can be made under the following:
- The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended;
- The Derelicts Sites Act, 1990;
- The Vacant Sites Levy; and
- Strategic Housing Developments.
These are unprecedented times. The announcements by An Taoiseach on 27th March, as part of the escalating measures to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, introduced considerable restrictions on movement: People have been asked to remain at home, with older and vulnerable people cocooning and others only leaving their home for certain essential purposes.
Given these new restrictions, it is important that the public participation periods in the planning system are extended to ensure that the integrity of decision making is upheld.
This also means that Kilkenny County Council can continue to operate the planning system through these new restrictions, subject to adherence to public health advice.
Planning applications can continue to be made by post and submissions can continue to be made by post and electronic means.
Pre-planning meetings are still being held - over the phone and planning applications can still be viewed online.