Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
117. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to extend the period that a planning permission is valid for in view of the fact that construction works were restricted in 2020 and 2021 due to public health advice. [26757/21]
In light of the impacts of the Covid-19 emergency, the Government, on 29 March 2020, made an Order under section 251A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (the Act), which resulted in the extension of time for a range of specified or appropriate periods and timelines in the Planning Acts and associated planning regulations. Further orders were signed on 16 April 2020 and 9 May 2020, the last of which expired on 23 May 2020. The three Orders had the combined effect of extending the relevant planning periods and timelines, including the duration of planning permissions, by an aggregate of 56 days/8 weeks during the time period in which they have effect. Accordingly, on foot of these Orders, the validity of a planning permission has now been extended by a further 8 weeks.
Under section 42 of the Act, the holder of planning permission may apply to the planning authority for an extension to the period of permission, prior to the expiration of that permission. On application, the authority shall extend the appropriate period by such additional period not exceeding 5 years as the authority considers requisite to enable the development to which the permission relates to be completed, provided that, the development was commenced before the expiration of the permission, substantial works were carried out and the development will be completed within a reasonable time.
If an extension to planning permission has been previously granted, the only circumstance in which the holder of a planning permission may be granted a second extension of duration is in respect of a development that relates to 20 or more houses subject to the development being completed within 5 years of the originally extended permission or by 31 December 2021 (as extended by the Section 251A Orders from last year), whichever first occurs.
On 30 March 2021, the Government published its latest response to managing Covid-19 - Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead, which enabled the recommencement of residential construction projects as part of the initial easing of the Covid Level 5 restrictions further to the recent lockdown, effective from 12 April last. On 29 April 2021, new public health measures were announced allowing all construction to restart in Ireland with effect from 4 May 2021.
Having regard to the cumulative impacts of Covid-19 on the construction sector over the last 15 months, my officials are presently engaging with the Office of the Attorney General regarding the possibility of bringing forward additional legislative amendments to provide for a further extension of duration of permission in specific circumstances, in particular to take account of construction delays to projects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but which, on advice, may only benefit extension of duration proposals that screen out the need for the undertaking of an environmental impact assessment or appropriate assessment.