Self Build Planning Guide


Self Build Planning Guide


The low down on planning permission

  • You don’t have to consult with the planning authority before applying for planning permission, but it is advisable to have a pre-application consultation if you are unsure of local planning policies.
  • Local authorities’ development policies and objectives are contained in their Development Plans and Local Area Plans. You can view the plans in your local authority office during office hours or at your local library.
  • Erect a public notice on site that follows the planning application form guidelines.
  • At the same time, place a notice of intention to build in a locally circulating newspaper. Your local authority will be able to provide a list of the approved publications for its area.
  • Your application must be received at the planning authority within two weeks of the notice appearing in the local newspaper. Address it to the Chief Planning Officer of the Planning Department of your local authority. Check that it is fully completed and includes the application fee. The standard fee for an application for the provision of a house is €65. In the case of an application for retention of a house, the fee is either €195 or €2.50 per square metre, whichever is greater. If the application is in any way inadequate or lacking in the required documentation, it is considered invalid and will be returned. The statutory eight week period for deciding the outcome of an application begins from the time you submit a valid application with the required information in full, pay the correct fee, and give appropriate public notice of the application.
  • Don’t commence any work until you receive the grant of permission as distinct from the notice of intention to grant permission.
  • Sometimes planning permission may be granted subject to conditions which may require changes to your proposals. You must comply with all of the conditions attached to planning permission and finish work in accordance with them.
  • Planning permission normally lasts for five years. The receipt of planning permission does not confer an automatic right to implement the planning permission.
  • If your application is refused, the local authority will give its reasons, and you have four weeks to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.


Getting Planning Permission
Having settled on your design, it is important to ensure your plans are in line with local planning guidelines before making your planning application or you could be faced with unnecessary delays.  Build Your Own House and Home, Ireland’s Builder’s Bible will guide you through all the essentials of planning your build.

Planning policies outlined in Development Plans and Local Area Plans vary from county to county. In 2006, Fingal County Council broke new ground when it became the first local authority to introduce a requirement for any new house to use 60 per cent less heating energy in some of its Local Area Plans. Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County followed suit with similar requirements in its County Development Plan. More and more local authorities are following this route as the Minister for the Environment introduces amendments to the Technical Document Part L of the Building Regulations requiring a 40 per cent improvement in energy performance of any new building. The introduction of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), which requires a Building Energy Rating Certificate for any house being sold or rented, has meant that housing design as we have known it to date is changing at a radical pace. So by contacting your planning office well in advance of making your application you can save a lot of time and trouble in the long run. Development Plans and guidance notes are available from each local authority. Otherwise local planning staff can provide general advice about your application and highlight any special conditions attached to the granting of planning permission. They will also tell you whether your proposals are likely to comply with the Development Plan for your area. Mary MacMahon of the Irish Planning Institute recommends you take full advantage of this opportunity. She says: “A pre-application consultation with your planning authority will help you through the planning process. It is best to have your drawings for your house ready for this meeting, so as any issue that might be problematical can be addressed before the application is submitted.”


Types of planning permission
There are four types of planning permission:

  • Permission
  • Outline permission and
  • Permission consequent on outline permission
  • Retention

As already stated requirements and details vary from one local authority to the next. The most common type planning to be received is permission, often referred to as full permission. However, if you want to see if the planning authority agrees in principle to the building of a house on a particular site or building a large  extension, you might apply for outline permission. This requires you to produce only the plans and details necessary to make a decision on the siting, layout or other proposals for development. If outline permission is given, you will have to submit detailed drawings and receive consequent permission before you start building work. Generally, outline permissions have a three-year duration. You must receive full permission before starting work.

It is an offence to carry out work that requires planning permission without getting approval, and the offence can carry heavy fines and imprisonment. However, if a genuine mistake has been made, it is possible to apply for planning permission to retain an unauthorised development. Permission could be refused, resulting in the building having to be demolished. Before applying for planning permission, you have to give public notice of your proposals. This must be done by putting a notice in an approved locally circulating newspaper and putting up a site notice that can be clearly read. The planning regulations give details of what should be included in the notices. The application must be received by the local authority within two weeks of the notice appearing in the local newspaper and the erection of the site notice. The site notice has to remain there for at least five weeks from the date of receipt of the planning application. Retention permission is when a person has already carried out a development and now wants to apply to regularise the situation by getting planning permission to retain the development. Genuine mistakes can be made in relation to the need for planning permission. If you undertake unauthorised development, you may apply for permission to retain it. However, this approach should not be relied upon to avoid seeking planning permission before starting work, as you may not necessarily be granted permission for retention or be required to carry out costly modifications. The application fee for retention is also three times the fee for an application made before development starts. Permission for retention does not automatically absolve you from prosecution if enforcement action has already been taken against you.


Lodging your application
If you are employing an architect, it is advised they make the application on your behalf. In general you will need to submit the following documents with six copies of your application and the appropriate fee:

  • Six copies of 6″ Ordnance Survey map, scale 1:10560, showing site location. All applications must be original Ordnance Surveymaps carrying a red stamp or stamped with a license number from the Ordnance Survey Office. The number of the Ordnance map and North point should be clearly indicated thereon.
  • Six copies of 25″ Ordnance Survey map, scale 1:2500, with site boundaries outlined in Red. Adjacent land in applicants control must be outlined in Blue and way leaves in Yellow. The North point and the number of the Ordnance map should be clearly indicated thereon. All maps must be original Ordnance Survey maps carrying a red stamp or stamped with a license number from the Ordnance Survey Office.
  • Six copies of Site Layout Plan, scale 1:500, with the site outlined in Red, with the North point showing, also showing the levels or contours where applicable. The position of the site notice affixed to the land or structure must also be shown on the Site Layout Plan or on a separate original map.
  • Six copies of detailed structural drawings, specifications, etc of the proposed development. These drawings shall be clearly scaled and dimensioned, must be metric scale of not less than 1:200 and just indicate the North point. The proposed development should be clearly marked or coloured to distinguish from the existing development. (Not required for Outline Planning Permission).
  • Six copies of a schedule listing the plans, drawings and maps described above.
  • Public Notices: The original page of newspaper containing the notice and five copies, and six copies of a white site notice. If the application refers to a site for which a valid
  • If relevant, Six copies of a Site Suitability Report, completed on your local authority Site Suitability report form, detailing trial hole and percolation test results carried out within the last 12 months, by a suitably qualified and competent person holding adequate professional indemnity insurance. Also if relevant, six copies of the treatment plant specification.


Getting a decision
Generally, local authorities must make a decision on a planning application within eight  weeks of receiving the application. However, if they need more information this must be requested within the first eight weeks. The planning authority has four weeks from the day further information is received to make a decision on the application or eight weeks in the case of an application accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement. With regard to decisions that are appealed to An Bord Pleanala, it has the objective of deciding on appeals within 18 weeks of receipt of an appeal. Your application will be acknowledged and placed on the planning register in the planning authority offices for public inspection. Anyone can see a copy of your application and can make a written submission or observation on it. The decision on your application will be notified to you and anyone who commented in writing on it. If the local authority decides to approve your application, you will receive a notice of intention to grant planning permission. If no one appeals the decision to An Bord Pleanala within four weeks of the date of this decision, you will receive a grant of permission from the local authority.


Application assessment process
Planning authorities take a number of factors into account when assessing applications. These include the proper planning and sustainable development of the area including zoning, road safety, development density, size location and adherence to established planning and development practices.

Other considerations include the planning authority’s own Development Plan, Government policy guidelines issued by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or other Ministers, the provision of amenities and the protection of special areas of conservation. However these issues should have been dealt with by your architect and in your pre-application consultation.
“Planning permission alone does not entitle a person to carry out a development,” points out a spokesperson in the Planning Section of the Department of the Environment. “You may need other consents depending on the type of development. For example, all new buildings, extensions, alterations and certain changes of use for existing buildings must comply with Building Regulations which set out basic design and construction requirements.” Planning permission may be subject to certain conditions, which will be listed on the decision.

These may require changes to your proposal. Examples include new arrangements for disposal of surface water, revised height, colour or material for boundary walls, or improved landscaping.


Length of permission
Planning permission normally lasts for five years. In certain circumstances the planning authority may extend the life of a planning permission, but this will only be where substantial works have been carried out during the lifetime of the permission and the planning authority is satisfied that the development will be  completed in a reasonable time. Sometimes local authorities require a payment known as a development contribution, in respect of public infrastructure and facilities towards the provision of roads, water supply, sewerage, open spaces or other facilities that may be necessary. Details of the development contribution scheme applicable are available from your local authority. If your application is turned down, the local authority will give its reasons. You have four weeks from the date of the decision to appeal to An Bord Pleanala.


Source: Build Your Own House & Home Magazine

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