Planning - What you need to know . . .|
This section outlines when planning is required when carrying out an attic conversion.
It gives advice on how to complete a planning application and what to do if planning is refused.
The planning regulations regarding attic conversion are somewhat vague under Irish planning law. The biggest issue is whether or not the attic conversion adheres to the Building Regulations. This of course depends on the structure of your house. To comply with the Building Regulations in terms of habitable space, 50% of the floor area above 1,500mm (5 feet) should be at least 2.4metres, or 8 ft. That usually doesn't apply with the majority of attics.
Most conversions will not require planning permission. Section 4(h.) of the Planning & Development Act 2000 provides that development 'being works which affect only the interior of the structure or which do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render the appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures' shall be exempted development for the purposes of the Act.
However, planning permission must be sought if you intend to make alterations to a ‘protected structure’, or if you wish to install dormer windows. Roof lights (e.g. Velux windows) to the front of the property will require planning whereas those to the rear will be exempt.
Your local authority will be able to advise you about this and tell you how to apply as well as giving you general advice about your application.
There are two types of planning permission. An application may be made for:
- Full Permission;
- Outline Permission;
The most common type of application made is for Full Planning Permission. This can be applied for when you have already decided on all your plans and designs and you wish to go ahead with the construction as soon as you are ready. Full Planning Permission is usually valid for five years but this should be confirmed with your local planning department.
There are circumstances when you may want to make an application for Outline Permission. For example, you may want to see whether the planning authority agrees with your proposal in principle before you go to the trouble of making detailed plans.
If you obtain Outline Permission, you must obtain Full Permission before starting work. In most cases, a subsequent application for permission must be made within 3 years of the date of grant of Outline Permission. The subsequent application is known as ‘Tull Permission consequent on Outline Permission’.
You must give a public notice of your proposals before making an application. This must be done by placing a notice in a locally circulating newspaper (your local authority will have a list) and putting up a site notice that can be clearly read.
You will find details of information that must be contained in the notices in the planning application form. If you are employing an architect, they can look after all stages of the planning application.
The application must be received by the local authority within 2 weeks of the notice appearing in the local newspaper and the erection of the site notice.
The site notice must remain in place for at least 5 weeks from the date of receipt of the planning application. (Please note, nine days over Christmas, from 24 December to 1 January, are not taken into account when calculating the 5 week period).
Very few people go through the whole planning process without availing of the services of an architect or agent at one stage or another. This may take the form of having someone act as your “agent” and deal with your application in its entirety.
Alternatively, you may have someone prepare the plans/drawings for you and you will submit the application yourself.
Regardless of which avenue you pursue, it is essential that whoever compiles the application is familiar with the specific requirements of the local authority as regards traffic safety, public health, design standards, etc and is also familiar with the , which governs whether permission will be given or not.
You apply for planning permission by filling in a planning application form and submitting it together with required documents to your local authority. Forms are available from the planning authority. Your local authority will also be able to give you advice about how to apply, whether your proposals are likely to comply with the development plan, what other documents you will need, what the fee will be and any other requirements.
It is a good idea to talk to the local authority before you make an application. This may save you long delays later on.
If you are employing an architect, he/she will normally make the application on your behalf.
In general, you will need to submit the following documents with your application:
- A location map (6 copies).
- Site or layout plan (6 copies).
- *Other plans, elevations and sections (6 copies).
- Copies of public notices (newspaper and site).
- A plan showing the position of a site notice or notices.
- The appropriate fee.
If the application is for outline permission only, the documents marked * in the above list must be submitted. This is to enable the planning authority to make a decision in relation to the siting, layout or other proposals for development in the application.
To apply for planning permission, contact the Chief Officer of the Planning Department of your local authority.
To apply for planning permission, contact the planning authority for your area i.e. your local County Council, City Council or Town Council.
Carlow County Council
|Address:||County Buildings, Athy Road, Carlow, Co. Carlow|
|Tel #2:||059 9170307|
Cavan County Council
|Address:||Courthouse, Cavan, Co. Cavan|
|Tel #2:||049 4378729|
Clare County Council
|Address:||Economic Development & Planning Department, Aras Contae an Clar, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare|
Cork County Council
|Address:||County Hall, Corrigohane Road, Cork, Co. Cork|
Donegal County Council
|Address:||County House, Market Square, Lifford, Co. Donegal|
Dun Laoire / Rathdown County Council
|Address:||Town Hall, Marine Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin|
Fingal County Council
|Address:||Planning Department, County Hall, Main Street, Swords, Co. Dublin|
|Tel #2:||01 8905762|
Galway County Council
|Address:||P.O. Box 27, Aras an Chontae, Prospect Hill, Galway, Co. Galway|
Kerry County Council
|Address:||Aras an Chontae, Rathass, Tralee, Co. Kerry|
Kildare County Council
|Address:||Aras Cill Dara, Devoy Park, Naas, Co. Kildare|
Kilkenny County Council
|Address:||County Hall, John Street, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny|
Laois County Council
|Address:||Aras an Chontae, Portlaoise, Co. Laois|
Leitrim County Council
|Address:||Aras an Chontae, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim|
Limerick County Council
|Address:||County Hall, Dooradoyle, Limerick, Co. Limerick|
Longford County Council
|Address:||Aras an Chontae, Great Water Street, Longford, Co. Longford|
Louth County Council
|Address:||County Offices, Dundalk, Co. Louth|
Mayo County Council
|Address:||Aras an Chontae, The Mall, Castlebar, Co. Mayo|
Meath County Council
|Address:||County Hall, Navan, Co. Meath|
Monaghan County Council
|Address:||County Offices, The Glen, Monaghan, Co. Monaghan|
Offaly County Council
|Address:||Court House, Tullamore, Co. Offaly|
Roscommon County Council
|Address:||Golf Links Road, Roscommon, Co. Roscommon|
Sligo County Council
|Address:||Riverside, Sligo, Co. Sligo|
South Dublin County Council
|Address:||County Hall, Town Centre, Tallaght, Dublin 24, Co. Dublin|
Tipperary North County Council
|Address:||Civic Offices, Limerick Road, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary|
|Tel #2:||067 44653|
Tipperary South County Council
|Address:||County Hall, Emmet Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary|
Waterford County Council
|Address:||Civic Offices, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford|
Westmeath County Council
|Address:||Planning HQ Section, Church Avenue, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath|
Wexford County Council
|Address:||Planning Dept, County Hall, Wexford, Co. Wexford|
Wicklow County Council
|Address:||Whitegates, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow|
You have to pay a fee with your application. Different fees apply to different types of development. The current fee for an application to build a house is €65.00.
The length of time it takes to get planning permission is affected by the completeness of the application and by whether or not there is an appeal or not.
Generally, a valid application will be dealt with by a planning authority within twelve weeks, from the date the application is made to the final granting of permission.
However, the period can vary, particularly if the planning authority seeks further information from the applicant (which must be done within the first eight weeks).
The planning authority then has four weeks from the day the further information is received to make a decision on the application. The following table illustrates the timescale involved in most cases.
|Start||Notice published in paper and site notice erected|
|Two weeks later||Latest date for lodging application|
|Between two weeks and two weeks later||Application is validated by the planning authority. Submissions or objections are considered.|
|Between five and eight weeks later||Planning authority issue notice of their decision on the application. (Alternatively, they may request further information.)|
|Four weeks after issue of notice of decision.||If no appeal is made, the planning authority will issue granting of permission, or outline permission, except where they have already indicated a decision to refuse.|
An appeal may take longer than an application to decide, but An Bórd Pleanála has an objective to decide appeals within 18 weeks of receipt of an appeal.
If your application is in any way inadequate or lacking in the required documentation, it will be invalid and returned to you.
If the Planning Department requests additional information, the applicant has a period of 6 months in which to reply. If the applicant fails to submit the Additional Information or Clarification of Additional Information within 6 months of the request, the application will lapse and a new Planning Application will be required.
The statutory eight-week period for deciding the outcome of the 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.
Planning authorities are required to sell, on request, copies of any part of a planning application file at a fee not exceeding the reasonable cost of making a copy.
This includes plans or other drawings and photographs. Any documents for sale will be available while they are open for public inspection.
Any person can see a copy of your application and make written submissions or observations.
This must be done within five weeks of the making of the planning application and on payment of the appropriate fee, to the planning authority.
Public submissions must be considered by the planning authority when determining a planning application.
In making their decisions, planning authorities take a number of matters into account, including the following:
- Proper planning and sustainable development of the area, for example, appropriate land use (zoning), road safety, development density, size, location and adherence to established planning and development practices.
- The planning authority's own development plan.
- Government policy.
- The provision of a Special Amenity Area Order.
- Any European site, such as Special Areas of Conservation and Special Protection Areas.
- Submissions and observations made by members of the public on the application.
Non-planning issues may also be taken into account, such as boundary and other disputes or questions that are more properly resolved through legal means.
The decision to grant permission, with or without conditions, will be notified to you and to anyone who commented on the application. You receive a notice of intention to grant permission. During a period of four weeks, beginning on the date of the making of this decision, you or anyone else who has made a submission or observation on the application and has paid the appropriate fee may appeal it to An Bórd Pleanála.
Where there is no appeal, the planning authority will formally grant permission at the end of the appeal period. You must not commence work until you receive this notification. If the decision is appealed, you will receive from An Bórd Pleanála either the granting of permission, with or without whatever conditions considered appropriate, or refusal of permission.
Where the planning authority decides to refuse your application, its reasons will be included in the notification sent to you. The same period of four weeks for appeal will apply.
Planning permission may be subject to certain conditions, which will be listed on the decision. These may require changes to your proposal. Examples of such changes are new arrangements for the disposal of surface water; revised height, colour or material for boundary walls; or improved landscaping of the site.
You may also be required to make a contribution to the local authority for services such as water and sewerage. These contributions differ from place to place and for different types of development.
You must comply with all of the conditions attached to the permission and finish work in accordance with them. Even if you have more than one permission for a site, you cannot pick and choose the conditions which suit you best.
The standard duration of planning permission is:
- Full Planning Permission: 5 years from the date of the granting of the permission by the planning authority or An Bórd Pleanála.
- Outline Planning Permission: where outline permission has been granted by the planning authority or An Bórd Pleanála, any subsequent application for permission consequent on the grant of outline permission must be made not later than 3 years beginning on the date of the grant of outline permission, (or such longer period, not exceeding 5 years, as may be specified by the planning authority). The outline permission will cease to have effect at the end of the above period unless the subsequent application for permission consequent on the grant of outline permission is made within that period.
In certain circumstances, the planning authority may extend the life of a planning permission, but only where the following conditions apply:
- Substantial works have been carried out during the lifetime of the permission.
- The planning authority is satisfied that the development will be completed in reasonable time.
If planning permission expires and you apply for a new permission for the same development, the planning authority may refuse permission or attach significantly different conditions. This can happen if planning policies or the requirements for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area have changed in the interim.
The planning system includes a comprehensive appeals process. Under this, all planning decisions made by planning authorities may be subject to independent review by An Bórd Pleanála (the Board).
The appeal must be made within 4 weeks beginning on the date of the making of the decision by the planning authority.
For further information check the or for further information consult for advice on guidance on how to lodge an appeal.
You do not have to consult the planning authority before making a planning application, but it is often advisable to do so where you are unsure of local planning policies and application procedures. Depending on the type of development, you may need to discuss connections to the public water supply and sewer.
The enforcement of planning decisions is the responsibility of the planning authority, which has wide enforcement powers to ensure development is carried out in conformity with planning permission and to halt and rectify unauthorised development.
However, any legal action must be started within seven years of the breach of the planning laws taking place.
Care should be taken to ensure that each condition of permission is fully complied with, in order to avoid incurring such action, and also to avoid difficulties when the property is being sold at a later date.
The development policies and objectives of the planning authority are contained in the local development plan. You can view the plan at any time during office hours at your local authority offices and local libraries. Copies and extracts from the plan are available at a reasonable cost from the planning authority.
It is an offence to undertake any work needing permission without that permission. Planning authorities have powers to stop unauthorised development, and this can be a costly experience for the offender. You may be required to rectify any unauthorised works, and will have to pay whatever costs are involved.
On conviction in the District Court, fines of up to €1,905 can be imposed, together with fines of up to €507 per day for continuing offences or to a term of imprisonment of six months. On conviction in the higher courts, the maximum fine is €12,700,000 (€12,700 per day for continuing offences) and up to two years imprisonment, or both.
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.