The Irish Planning Permission Process: Makes no logical sense?

The Irish Planning Permission Process: Makes no logical sense?

The Irish Planning Permission Process: Makes no logical sense? During the week Mr. Justice Edwards ruled, with ‘very great regret’ against a couple in County Meath and agreed that the local County Council were entitled to a demolition order for their two-storey home, which was built without planning permission.

Their house, which they have lived in since December 2006, is 6,229sq.ft house; more than twice the size of a previous planning application submitted by the couple for which permission was refused. The couple, who have three children, had been refused planning permission for a number of different sites and gave a sworn statement that they had become ‘totally frustrated’ with the planning process and went ahead with the building of the property.

The judge said their breach was not a “minor infraction” but “a flagrant violation of the planning laws” which was “completely unjustified”. He said that the law must be upheld and they had brought this on themselves.

After the ruling some commented how surprising it is that “neither the bank nor the engineer that was signing off on the stage payments for the property never sought to ensure that the building was in compliance with the (non-existent) planning permission.”

In unison, many say there is neither rhyme nor reason to the Irish Planning Permission Process / law or no logical sense to a planner’s requests and demands. The planning process here seems to be extremely expensive, protracted, and full of endless vagaries and continues to be conducted behind closed doors.

Have your Say

  • The Irish Planning Permission Process: Unfair, expensive and a lengthy processes? Or
  • No matter how frustrating the system is, it is there for a reason
There are 35 comments for this article
  1. Bik Bok at 10:54 am

    If people were more inclined to vote libertarian then there’d be a far better chance their property rights would actually be respected and planning laws would at most be about structural integrity and ensuring the construction didn’t violate the rights of others,.. say if you’re polluting, creating excessive noise or whathaveyou.
    However with the overwhelmingly entitled statist mentality of the Irish we subsequently get overly controlling governments and draconian laws.

  2. gar at 6:44 pm

    I think the local needs planning is a total joke i live 12k away from where i want to build and dont qualify as local i was born here and now have a family i think it is every mans right to provide a home for his family my wife is not irish and cannot believe this ridicoulous law it is discrimination and should be obolished it applies in no other country and if it was changed would create many jobs for trades and suppliers alike far too much red tape in ireland unfortunatley:-(.

  3. Matthew at 6:29 pm

    Its called the planning ACT for a reason, you have to take part in it to make it real. An ACT or STATUTE can only be applied with the consent of the governed. Cause no harm or loss to another human, or the environment, and build whatever home you wish. And putting someone else’s idea of how that plot of land should look out of joint does not constitute causing harm or loss!

  4. Donnacha at 6:06 pm

    Hear hear not “here here” Good riddance no sympathy due except for the children Nobody here who says the planning system is a joke or corrupt would like someone to build right on top of ’em they’d be out protesting that there has to be some kind of legislation against nilly willy building which believe it or not there is. They behaved like spoilt children couldn’t take no for an answer and they got spanked good. I happen to know of two non-locals who have and are building illegally I’m waiting till they have spent the money building the place before I inform the authorities, who do they think they are? They have never even applied for planning and have never been employed. We who do pay tax have enough to carry without these free loaders, good riddance.

  5. Stephen Byrne at 6:53 pm

    There appears to be one law for Corporate Ireland and a separate law for Citizen Ireland.

  6. Shane at 4:13 pm

    Here here! Jeff Lebowski

  7. moo at 12:22 pm

    Unfortunately I have little sympathy with these people. However I agree, the Irish planning system needs to be reformed. It needs to be more open and transparent and more importantly, consistent. The planners hands are tied in many instances, as corrupt councillors/politicians push bad decisions. As a planner, I speak from first hand experience.

  8. Ja at 3:26 pm

    I agree with the judgement in this case, the law is the law. It is just not being applied equally across the board, and that leads to frustration. I am aware of 2 brothers who applied for planning permission. One had his granted and built away while the other was rejected again and again. Eventually he was told to apply to a different person. He did so, and now has his house, built, next door to his brother, although he did have to spend about 2 extra years renting. He didn’t have to modify his plans either, so clearly there was no issue there!

  9. elsie at 7:44 pm

    whatever the planning system is and how the planners behave, there are laws you will have to live with.when you build a house that is even twice the size than you apllied for you may be very stupid or naiv or…., but do not cry afterwards that you were frustrated about the way it went.when everybody in this country who thinks that he does not get his right and just says: oke but I was frustrated and just does what he wants, in no time we will have anarchy, because I am afraid that all the 4 millioin inhabitants of this country will start doing what he wanted and did not do this because of these laws. so no pity at all!

  10. Kosogun at 10:39 pm

    I read town planning up to a professional level. It is a very interesting subject when you are learning it but in practice, it is actually the opposite of the messiah that it is supposed to be. From my experience as a person not originally from Ireland, it seems the profession is full of corrupt practitioner and highly susceptive government interference everywhere, especially at the local government level. If Planners are left to be planners and practice their profession as they should, they will be highly idealistic, flexible and economical in the use of land resources. This is just not possible in the real world because they are shackled by archaic laws and practice, nepotism and recently the interference of the stupid environmentalist or (green as they are generally called) that will prefer to bring everybody back to the stone age in which they themselves cannot live.
    However, not complying with the onerous law can only lead to chaos, slums and shanty towns which nobody wants. In fact if you examine the sociology of it will lead to negative health and economic outcome. The level of criminality and exploitation will be unbearable.
    I can therefore understand the reason why the judge will want to uphold the rules.
    What is required is to let the government set the strategic plans and leave the professionals with the management and operations of the plan. On top of this create a separate policing agency for planning to make it fair and balanced. That is, remove the shackles and everyone will be able to see the beauty of planning.

  11. Emma at 8:44 pm

    I do feel sorry for this family when it seems that through the media that they are being made an example of. I do hope the Council are going to look around the countryside and check that each other house in the country had planning also as i have too neighbours, in the country ,,the first one accross the field a dormer bungalow which is being currently being built without any planning and another house up the road which was supposed to be a bungalow by planning permission and turned out to be a large dormer house. This family are not the only ones?????My sister then is after applying for planning 4 times for the same area and cannot build a house as the area his too built up? Get That!!!

  12. Laura at 8:16 pm

    When I first moved to county Dublin there was a beautiful village just up the road from me, Chapelizod. It was quiet and quaint and peaceful. Then some idiot gained planning permission and built a massive apartment block on the river in the middle of the town. Chapelizod is now overcrowded, traffic laden and the sight of those apartments ruined that village. I would love to see the paper trail for that planning permission! It’s a real shame.

    • wickedfairy at 11:04 am

      yes Laura, it would be very intersting to see the paper trail and many other papers trails. All these houses which were built in flood plains, the law is the law indeed, the planning laws supported many of those who now find themselves in NAMA. Many developers having built these horrible nasty badly built little estates in which no one in there right minds would want to live, no social centres, no schools, no local shops, etc. etc. which I thought, was part of the deal for getting planning permisison, or was I dreaming? How come these guys were allowed to build these eyesores, where were the planners then I wonder, oh what a nasty little country we have become. The gombeen men have been in charge for far too long and look were it has got us.

  13. Mick at 5:03 pm

    Of course, people should drive a coach and four through the laws of the land.

    What were we doing for 800 years? God Bless Michael Collins and his band for breaking into a few fancy houses on Merrion Square and the like.

    The civil servants will always set the laws and push the boundary until there is a revolt. Only those who are suffering at their hands will shout stop, the majority don’t know any better or care, have never read the rules they wrote and assume that their servants would not engage in anything naughty so the serving class continue behaving like demi-gods, dealing in favours, brown envelopes, and worse.

  14. Mick at 4:32 pm

    I do not know the area but the house looks lovely from the TV.

    It is a crying shame that it should be pulled down given all the poverty there is.

    However, the civil service class do not care, they have their jobs and no doubt, some servant or more have spent hundreds of hours hounding this couple over the last few years keeping themselves busy and in a job.

    Is it a local vendetta?

  15. Jeff Lebowski at 2:32 pm

    Keeping the countryside pristine? That is bulls*** and everyone knows it. Planning is about maintaining the status quo. Only locals can develop, and everyone in power, stays in power. Planning permission, like just about every other official function in Ireland, is a total joke.

  16. Ger at 2:31 pm

    I recently went through the planning process in Bray Urban District Council and I found the staff to be very helpful & accomodating, they met with myself and my architect before we submitted our plans to give us some advice. I think it is unfair for people to accuse the staff of being corrupt & take back handers. The staff are not politicians and they are here to help & serve the public. Rules and regulations are in place for a reason & regrettable as it is – this couple broke the law!

  17. lowe at 2:09 pm

    It’s about time the council enforced their laws,all over Co Meath businesses etc set up without planning permission and are there for years, come on now and continue the good work of enforcement.

  18. shin a wil at 2:05 pm

    Laws are there to be implemented, you have to abide by them, sad day but everyone that breaks the council laws should be penalised.

  19. Peter Martin at 1:55 pm

    These poeple were both very foolish. One cannot simply drive a coach and four thro’ the law of the land. However, the law is about to get much worse once our planning bill that is currently going thro’ is passed. The only decision makers in the process will be the planners engaged in the planning depts of the local authorities. Public input both thro’ elected representatives and joe soaps will not exist. Not a good idea. We have seen what professionals do without external input e.g. bankers, polititions, lawyers, auditors, auctioneers and accountants.
    Gormley is now about to let professionals planners have a free rein. Are the coming generation to live in high rise shoeboxes. They simply won’t be built as nobody to buy them or bank to finance them. Construction workers kiss goodbuy to your employment prospects for many years to come.

  20. wickedfairy at 1:41 pm

    and re that Jfinn, can the original family not ask for some kind of investigation, surely there is a paper trail for the original planning, surely its fraud? After all, an ordinary Joe citizen went into Clontarf garda station last week to report Ivor Callely, things are starting to change.

  21. wickedfairy at 1:38 pm

    very interesting Jfinn, and most unsurprising, gombeen men everywhere, no wonder the country is in the state its in

  22. Billy Bruce at 1:38 pm

    As with any law, if you break it you have to suffer the consequence. There are plenty of laws which I don’t like or agree with, but if we all chose to ignore the ones we don’t like we would have anarchy.
    What really needs to be addressed is the cost of acquiring planning permission, which vary tremendously from county to county.
    But if your planning application is thrown out, and you lose your appeal, then I am afraid you do not have the right to ignore it>

  23. wickedfairy at 1:02 pm

    more to the point, how come other blots on the landscape did get permission, agree with every word Richard said. And it is very interesting that the banks didn’t cotton on to it, or perhaps the family did not need the help of the banks, either way, who will house them now – the State? Very intersting article in yesterday’s property supplement by Isabel Morton about this very subject, the difference between the UK and Ireland re planning

  24. Jfin at 12:53 pm

    I think the family in question took a huge gamble with what they did, and unfortunately for them they lost – I think the planning authority is still old school – back handers and politics. I know of a situation where the family tried for planning permission on 4 different occassions and finaly sold the plot of land at 1/5th of the price as agricultural. somebody (LOCAl and well connected)bought the land for €25k and secured full planning within months. something still aint right!!

  25. Richie Barry at 12:46 pm

    That couple may have been frustrated but if they had at least built to their original application they’d have some defense. But to build a mansion knowing they didn’t have planning was either foolish naive or extremely arrogant.

  26. Mark at 12:42 pm

    Planning permission in Ireland is an absolutely ridiculous process. At a time when Ireland is looking to expand investment in the country and increase the number of jobs available to it’s citizens it is ridiculous that this planning process has not yet been looked into and overhauled. It is incomprehensible that a process like this should also be conducted behind closed doors.

  27. murt o’ brien at 12:32 pm

    I can understand the frustration in trying to get permission,but the size of the house shows little regards for any kind of planning,they really pushed the boat too far, however one still feels sorrow for them. Murt

  28. ZZ at 12:17 pm

    Planning rules and guidelines are there for a reason, and if everyone circumvented them, then the country would be full of shacks rather than homes. If you build without planning permission then you have to expect the consequences, no matter how expensive or frustrating it it. This won’t be the first, nor the last time do we see this same situation occur.

    • Jackie at 1:40 pm

      As frustrating as the planning permissions are, they are laws and must be obeyed. These people
      took the law into their own hands, and built a
      house that was denied permission many times.
      They should be greatful that they got to live in
      their “illegal” home for three years, and no matter who you are, you just can’t do the things
      you want and ignore the laws. I don’t feel sorry
      for them in the least. They are getting what they
      deserve for such a selfish act.

  29. Mary Ryan at 12:15 pm

    I am delighted to see planning laws enacted at long last. We have had scores of foreign visitors over the past two years who have been HORRIFIED at what our so-called “planning laws” have done to the Irish landscape. One French visitor spent a week in Donegal three summers ago and vowed never to return because the rash of holiday homes, yellow estates and one-off neo-Georgian piles had so spoilt a landscape he knew and had loved. Nowhere else in Europe has a landscape been so blighted by dreadful, gerry-built estates and one-off, houses. In parts of England, Scotland, Italy and France you have to use local stone and materials and the design of your house – whether modern or traditional – has to be in keeping with the local environment. You have to build in designated areas – you can’t just build what you want where you want like here. Your building is inspected at every turn, right down to the materials, to make sure a building that will last beyond your own lifetime will remain in harmony with the landscape around it. It’s so simple – and means that villages and towns can expand, that landscapes can evolve but that areas keep their identity and character, that water tables remain unpolluted, and that the landscape is maintained for future generations. So I am thrilled to see anyone who flaunts these laws being reprimanded and to see houses that defy planning laws being demolished. There has been too much mé-féin, short-term thinking in everything we’ve done in this country, including the way we built our homes in the last 10 years; now it is time to think long-term, to act as a community and to think of the long-term good of our country and its people. Creating an landscape which is clean, beautiful and able to be enjoyed by all would be a huge achievement – and this ruling is a long-overdue ray of hope.

  30. M Alagna at 12:08 pm

    Considering some of the buildings and developments to which the various city and county councils HAVE given permission, I feel the whole planning permission process is inherently flawed, subject to the personal taste of those making the decisions (keep in mind that most people who go in for civil service/ govt jobs are not at all aesthetically minded), and most likely rife with corruption. I do not know the details of this couple’s case and as such I cannot say at all whether their plans/ requests gave rise to infringement on local services, neighbors, ecology, etc. This is the only area I feel is appropriate to government interference in the process of designing, building or renovating a dwelling.
    Some of the aesthetic limitations are ludicrous- councils will not even consider designs that vary from the local commonality, even when those designs are still in the spirit of it, and complement or even improve the landscape onto which they are to be built.
    Permission was given to countless developments boasting a uniformity of design- cookie cutter, soulless, crowded, and built to low standards of insulation- both heat and noise. These clutter our landscapes now. Yet somehow, they did not get censored at the planning stage. I have seen a number of new builds already demonstrating faulty foundations, showing cracks in walls and floors. Yet these obtained approval.
    We have an allergy to positive change here in Ireland, and our governments have a particular susceptibility to corruption via nepotism and crony-ism.

  31. Chris Mulhall at 11:57 am

    Whilst many of the Planning rules and decisions are frustrating at best and idiotic at worst they have to be followed, and indeed expanded to at least try and stop the spread of one off monstrosities that are polluting the countryside.

  32. Richard Slevin at 11:54 am

    In my experience as an individual looking for planning permission, The Irish Planning Permission Process is Unfair, expensive and a lengthy process. Its corrupt, it’s all about who you know and it has nothing to do with the actual need – family or community. The planning process is a service provided by people who quite frankly are not in touch with reality and bow to external pressure.

  33. Mrs Burrows at 11:49 am

    I think the rules are there for everyone to follow, why did that couple think they were able to do what they felt like ?

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