Planning Process and Statutory Deadlines
On 29 March, 2020, the Minister and the Government, taking account of the considerations under section 251A(5) of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended, made orders which result in an extension of time for a range of specified/appropriate periods and timelines under this Act, and a number of other related Planning Acts1 and associated regulations.
This means that such periods are extended in duration from 29 March 2020 to 20 April 2020 inclusive. This follows on from the statement by An Taoiseach on 27 March 2020, which asked people generally to stay at home until Easter Sunday (12 April 2020), other than for certain essential activities, and introduced cocooning for people aged over 70 and vulnerable groups. In determining the end date of the order under Section 251A, a number of additional days have been added to this period to allow for appropriate notice of revised arrangements on expiry of the order.
How long will the Order under Section 251A last?
In the context of the current civil emergency arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to make an Order from Sunday 29th March 2020 to Monday 20th April 2020 inclusive, a total period of three weeks and two days (23 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. Any such future decision to extend the period will be communicated.
What does an 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 legislation are disregarded, which means that they are, in effect, extended for the duration of the time period specified by the Order.
An Order with a duration of 23 days, means that a 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.
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 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. The period for deciding these applications may be extended by up to the duration of the Order i.e. up to a further three weeks and two days.
Mayo County Council will endeavour to make a decision on planning applications that that are due for decision between the 29th March 2020 and 20th April 2020 (as may be further extended), if circumstances permit, but may extend this period in accordance with the Order.
Further information requested on these applications may be submitted to the Planning Office of Mayo County Council by post. If post is not available send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information received between the period of 29th March 2020 and 20th April 2020 (as may be further extended), will be processed and progressed as circumstances permit, but it is likely that the 4 week period with recommence as per Order on the 20th April (or as further extended)
Planning Applications submitted after Friday 21st February 2020
Any planning application that was submitted to a planning authority less than five weeks prior to the date of commencement of the Order, i.e. after Friday 21st February 2020, cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until after Monday 20th April 2020 (or as further extended). This is to ensure that the five-week period for public consultation is completed after the expiry of the duration of the Order. The effect of this is that the period for deciding any such applications, must be extended by the full duration of the Order.
Planning Applications Submitted on or after 29th March
Any planning application submitted to a planning authority after the date of commencement of the Order, cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until the five-week period for public consultation on the application commences, and this cannot be until the expiry of the duration of the Order plus at least five weeks i.e. after Monday 25th May 2020.
Can Planning Applications still be made during the period of the Order?
Yes, planning applications may be posted to the relevant local authority principal office, even where public offices are closed. This may be more challenging in the case of more complex applications, and local authorities should consider what arrangements can be made locally in this regard. Initial processing, including validation, will be progressed. It should be noted that if a planning application is received over this period, there will be an onus on the applicant to maintain a site notice on site until after Monday 25th May 2020