Published
Wed, 01/04/2020 - 15:13
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New Service Delivery Approach by Cork County Council in order to Give Effect to the Provisions of Circular Letter PL 02/2020 entitled Planning and Development during the COVID 19 Emergency

On 29th March 2020 Cork County Council received a copy of Circular Letter PL 02/2020 entitled Planning and Development during the COVID 19.

As can be seen from the extract below the provisions of the legislation are broad and seek to address a number of matters, including the potential impacts of the COVID-19 on the integrity of the planning system.

 

“Having considered the potential impacts on the effective operation of planning system from the most recent advice regarding actions of the public and workers for whom it is not essential to leave home to work, the Minister has commenced Section 9 of the recently enacted Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid 19) Act 2020.   This section inserts a new provision (Section 251A) into the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended (the Act).  The provision is modelled on an existing and long-established provision under Section 251 of the Act, which applies in normal circumstances every year over the Christmas period.   
 
Subsequently, and having regard to the issues set out in Section 251A(5) of the Act, the Government made an order under Section 251A(4), to the effect that the period from 29th March 2020 to the 20 April 2020, inclusive, may be disregarded when calculating any appropriate period, specified period, or other timelines in the following Acts, or provisions, or in any regulations  made under those acts or provisions:- 

  • The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended; 
  • The Derelicts Sites Act, 1990;
  • Part 2 of the Urban Regenerations and Housing Act, 2015 (which relates to the vacant site levy); 
  • Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, 2016 (which relates the Strategic Housing Developments) 

 
It is important to stress that the effect of the activation of this provision does not freeze the planning system, rather it extends the timelines within which decisions can be made.  Otherwise the work of the authorities will continue, of course subject to adherence to public health advice and reflective of consequential local working arrangements in this regard.  A preliminary set of FAQs is attached to this Circular, and this will be expanded over the coming days, and kept up-to-date on the Departments website.”

 

In stating

the period from 29th March 2020 to the 20 April 2020, inclusive, may be disregarded when calculating any appropriate period, specified period, or other timelines in the following Acts, or provisions, or in any regulations  made under those acts or provisions’,

the above referenced legislation and circular effectively ‘stops the clock’ on the expiration of all statutory periods set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, until after 20th April 2020 when the clock as regards calculating the days remaining in statutory periods will recommence, including as regards the following key service areas:

 

  • The 2 week Press / Site Notice timeframes;
  • The 5 week period for Site Notices to be maintained on site
  • The 5 Week period for 3rd Parties to Make a Submission on a Planning Application – 3rd Party Submission period is also extended for Significant Additional Information or any other re-advertised application
  • The Planning Authority’s 8 week decision timelines,
  • The 4 week appeal period to An Bord Pleanala,
  • The Planning Authority’s 4 week period to issue a Final Decision,
  • The Applicants 6 month period for responding to a Further Information Request,
  • The timeline for the making of a declaration under Section 5
  • The Prescribed timelines regarding Section 31 Variation No2 process,
  • The Statutory timelines relating to the County Development Plan 2014 Review Process,
  • All Enforcement related timeframes
  • The Vacant Sites Levy process
  • The Short-term Letting provisions
  • The Strategic Housing Development timeframes
  • All Local Authority Own Development Part 8 timelines

 

The new legislative provisions set out under Circular Letter PL 02/2020 make specific arrangements for Planning Authorities such that we may continue to issue decisions on Planning Applications received up to and including 21st February 2020 – in such cases it is presumed the public consultation processes has ended.

It is Cork County Councils intention to continue to process all such Planning Applications (we have 189 at time of writing) where all statutory consultation processes have ended and where all reports necessary to make an informed decision are available.

We will continue to issue decisions where we receive responses to Further Information Requests / Clarifications received during the period 29th  March to 20th April (and any other timeline further extended by the Minister/Government) where the response is deemed not be significant (ie does not require re-advertisement to facilitate further 3rd Party involvement).

The Planning Authority may issue a decision to seek Further Information / Clarification for Response by the Applicant. Alternatively the Planning Authority may issue a decision to Grant Permission or Refuse Permission, however the 4 week Appeal Period to An Bord Pleanala is impacted by the new legislative provisions. Accordingly unless the 4 week Appeal Period expired before 29th March 2020, the Planning Authority cannot issue a Final Decision until 21st April 2020 at the earliest when the planning system is rescheduled to revert to normal practices, unless the new provisions of Circular Letter PL 02/2020 are further extended by the Minister/Government.

 

Queries regarding the Appeal Process should be directed to An Bord Pleanala:

We will continue to validate and register all planning applications received, however we are now precluded in law from issuing decisions on planning applications received after 21st February 2020 until the new provisions of Circular Letter PL 02/2020 entitled are revoked / wither.

As previously advised Cork County Council will continue to provide phone, electronic mail and post based preplanning clinics, answer general queries, respond to specific queries regarding planning matters and assess compliance with conditions proposals etc..

This will be the position up to 20th April 2020, after which the planning system is rescheduled to revert to normal practices, unless the new provisions of Circular Letter PL 02/2020 entitled are further extended by the Minister/Government.

 

Please find the following documents linked within our 'Covid-19 Service Update' at the top of our Planning Section landing page and also linked where referred  to below for your review and consideration:

  1. Planning Circular PL 02/2020 in relation to the temporary arrangements for the operation of the planning system during the Covid-19 emergency, specifically referencing:
  • revised timeline arrangements for the undertaking of specific acts under the planning legislation;
  • new Exempted Development Regulations in relation to the change of use of restaurants to takeaways during the period of the emergency;
  • new Regulations providing for the non-application of the Planning Act to certain classes of development by or on behalf of a State Authority during the period of the emergency, including the change of use and repurposing of existing buildings and facilities, and/or the provision of temporary new build accommodation and structures to address the Covid-19 civil emergency;
  • extension of the deadline for the call of proposals under Call 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) to 29 May 2020;

 

  1. Section 28 Guidelines for Planning Authorities in relation to the enforcement of certain planning conditions during the Covid-19 emergency;

 

  1. FAQ document in relation to the operation of the temporarily extended timelines for a range of specified/ appropriate periods under the Planning Act and associated Regulations;

 

Please note the legislative provisions have a similar effect on the Derelicts Sites Act, 1990 by ‘stopping the clock’ on the expiration of all statutory periods set out in said Act, including any amendments thereof, until after 20th April 2020 when the clock as regards calculating the days remaining in statutory periods will recommence unless they are further extended by the Minister/Government.

 

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