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PLANNING TIME PERIOD ADJUSTMENTS

The Section 251A Order

How long will the Extended Order under Section 251A last?

In the context of the current civil emergency arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to extend the Order that originally commenced on Sunday 29th March 2020, until Saturday 9th May 2020 inclusive, a total period of six weeks (42 days). Section 251A of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended provides that this Order could be extended (before it expires), once the statutory requirements for extension are met and could be further extended as many times as is considered necessary, until 9th November 2020.

What does an Extended Order under Section 251A mean for the Planning System?

An Order under Section 251A means that the time periods specified for any statutory process in the Planning and Development Act 2000 as amended (the Act) and related planning and building control legislation are disregarded, which means that they are, in effect, extended for the duration of the time period specified by the Order. An extended Order with a duration of six weeks, means that a planning authority will have the normal period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to six weeks i.e. up to fourteen weeks in total, to determine a planning application. An extended Order with a duration of six weeks, also means that an interested person will have the normal period of five weeks, together with an additional period of up to six weeks i.e. up to eleven weeks in total, to participate in the planning process. The exact calculation of the extended time period will depend on the date a planning application is submitted and the stage of the process it is at, with further details set out below.

Planning Applications

Can Planning Applications still be made during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, planning applications may be posted or delivered to the offices of Carlow County Council, County Buildings, Athy Road, Carlow. On receipt of the planning application initial processing, including validation, will be progressed.

Can Planning Applications be decided during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, but only planning applications that were submitted to Carlow County Council at least five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the original Order, i.e. applications submitted up to and including Friday 21st February 2020. These applications have been subject to the minimum period for public consultation and can be decided. However, the period for deciding these applications may be extended by the duration of the extended Order, i.e. up to a further six weeks.

Any planning application that was submitted to Carlow County Council less than five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the original Order, i.e. after Friday 21st February 2020, cannot be decided by Carlow County Council until after Saturday 9th May 2020(see note 1). This is to ensure that the unexpired portion of the five-week period for public participation is completed after the expiry of the duration of the extended Order. The effect of this is that the total period for deciding any such applications, must be extended by the full duration of the extended Order.

In a similar manner, any planning application submitted to Carlow County Council after the date of commencement of the original Order, cannot be decided by Carlow County Council until the five-week period for public participation on the application has been completed, and this cannot be until the expiry of the duration of the extended Order plus at least five weeks i.e. after Saturday 13th June 2020 (see note 2). The effect of this is that period for deciding any such applications must be extended by the applicable duration of the extended Order and may be until Saturday 4th July 2020 (see note 3).

Note 1: As the first day after 9th May 2020 is a Sunday and the offices of all planning authorities are closed, this means that in effect, a decision must be made on or after Monday 11th May 2020 in such cases, further to Section 141 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

Note 2: As the first day after 13th June 2020 is a Sunday and the offices of all planning authorities are closed, this means that in effect submissions may be made until Monday 15th June 2020 in such cases, further to the Section 141 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

Note 3: As the 4th July 2020 is a Saturday and the offices of all planning authorities are closed, this means that in effect a decision must be made by Monday 6th July 2020 in such cases, further to the Section 141 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

Can Planning Applications be made electronically/on-line during the period of the Extended Order?

No. The Irish planning system does not currently facilitate the electronic/on-line submission of planning applications, for technical and legislative reasons this multiagency project is not at a stage of development sufficient to introduce the electronic/online submission of planning applications at present.

Can ‘Section 247’ Pre-Planning meetings take place during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, planning staff may continue to engage with applicants and their representatives, and/or consider pre-planning documentation by electronic means, even where public offices are closed. Please note that the requirement for preplanning meetings requested under Section 247 of the Act to be held within four weeks of a request for such a meeting, is extended by the full duration of the extended Order.

Can I inspect planning documentation during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, Carlow County Council will facilitate the on-line display of planning application documentation within a short period of receipt and validation of an application. Where such on-line systems are in place, all planning applications submitted to Carlow County Council prior to the period of duration of an Order should be available for electronic inspection. In most cases, planning application documentation submitted during the period of the extended Order will also be available on-line, but in some cases this will not be possible, at least until restrictions on non-essential activity currently in place until after 4th May 2020, are lifted. Limitations that might arise in the availability of planning documentation during the period of the extended Order are one of the principal reasons for extending the five-week public participation process beyond the period of the extended Order.

Can I make a submission on a planning application during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, a submission may be made on any planning application lodged with Carlow County Council less than five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the original Order, i.e. after Friday 21st February 2020 and for the duration of the extended Order. In addition, after the expiry of the extended Order on 9th May 2020, submissions may be made during the remainder of any applicable five-week period that commenced prior to the commencement of the original Order. In the case of all applications made within the duration of the extended Order, submissions may also be made for a further five-week period, to Saturday 13th June 2020 (see note 4).
Carlow County Council can accept submissions by post and on-line submissions and electronic means of payment.

Note 4: As the first day after 13th June 2020 is a Sunday and the offices of all planning authorities are closed, this means that in effect submissions may be made until Monday 15th June 2020 in such cases, further to the Section 141 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended).

Should Site Notices be maintained on site during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, site notices for all planning applications submitted after 21st February 2020, should be maintained on site during the period covered by the extended Order under Section 251A.
For planning applications submitted prior to 29th March 2020, site notices must be maintained on site for the unexpired period of the initial five-week consultation period that remains after 9th May 2020.
For planning applications submitted after 29th March 2020 during the period covered by the extended Order, site notices must be maintained on site for five-weeks after 9th May 2020 i.e. until 13th June 2020.
The additional five-day period between the cessation of Covid-19 public health emergency restrictions on non-essential activity on 4th May 2020 and the cessation of the extended Order under Section 251A on 9th May 2020 is to facilitate an orderly resumption of activity in the planning system. Subject to Covid-19 public health emergency restrictions on non-essential activity not being extended, new site notices may be erected after 4th May 2020. These dates are subject to review and change/to take account of public health recommendations.

Does the Order apply to Newspaper Notices?

Yes, the two-week period in which to lodge a planning application, following publication of a valid newspaper notice, is extended for the period covered by the extended Order. Newspaper notices published less than 14 days prior to 29th March 2020, i.e. from 16th March 2020, will remain valid until at least one day after the cessation of period of the extended order. This is because the unexpired part of the relevant two-week period remaining on 29th March 2020, i.e. a minimum of 1 day up to a maximum of 13 days, subject to when the newspaper notice was published, will still remain after the end of the period of the extended Order.
Newspaper notices published anytime during the period of the extended Order, i.e. from 29th March 2020 to 9th May 2020 inclusive, will remain valid for two weeks after the cessation of the period of the extended Order i.e. until Saturday 23rd May 2020.

Can I make an appeal to An Bord Pleanála during the period of the Extended Order?

Yes, any planning application that was determined by a local planning authority not more than four weeks prior to the commencement of the original Order under Section 251A, may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. The appeal period is extended by the duration of the Order as extended, i.e. by six weeks.

See http://www.pleanala.ie/ for details associated with the submission of appeals.

Does the Extended Order affect the duration of existing Planning Permissions?

Yes in some cases. The Section 251A Order operates to extend the life span of existing planning permissions by the period of duration of the extended Order, but only where the life span is one stipulated in statute. This means that all current planning permissions which benefit from the default lifespan of 5 years under section 40 of the Planning and Development Act, will have their duration automatically additionally extended to include the period of the extended Section 251A Order. Where a different duration is specified in the permission itself, as this is not a period specified in the Act, the additional period covered by the extended Order would not to apply.

Disclaimer:

The above information is based on the Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and have been published for the purpose of providing general assistance and guidance only and are not legal interpretations of the legislation. Readers must apply the relevant statutory provision to their own particular circumstances and, in doing so, should if necessary obtain their own expert planning and/or legal advice as appropriate.

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