The public will have extra time to make submissions on planning applications to compensate for limited travel in the weeks up to Easter, it was announced this week. 

A Government order on March 29 has added three weeks to the public participation period for all planning notices lodged between February 21 and March 29 of this year. 

Housing, Planning, and Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy said: ‘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 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.’

The orders will add 23 days to the time period for processing planning applications. This reflects the ‘Stay at Home’ period up to Easter Sunday with an additional short period to allow for adequate notice of revised arrangements.

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.

Planning applications can continue to be made by post, and authorities can engage with applicants by electronic means, accepting submissions by post and electronic means. Most authorities have on-line systems for inspecting planning applications. The extended time will also apply to planning appeals, which An Bord Pleanála will continue to receive by post.

Minister Murphy said: ‘Work will continue through these new restrictions so that the planning system is well placed to play its vital role in supporting the recovery.’