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 a Planning Permission and to halt and rectify unauthorised development.
Care should be taken to ensure that each condition of a Permission and the permitted plans are fully complied with, in order to avoid incurring such enforcement action, and also to avoid difficulties when the property is being sold at a later date. See the section on rectifying a planning unauthorised development below.
Stopping Unauthorised Development
If you think somebody is developing or using land without or contrary to a Planning Permission you should contact the Planning Authority in writing using the Enforcement Complaint Form. The Planning Authority will issue a Warning Letter to the person carrying out the development based on the complaint received provided sufficient information is available to send such letter. They will subsequently investigate the matter to determine if enforcement action should be taken.
Any person may apply to either the Circuit or High Courts for an order restraining unauthorised development or use of land or requiring compliance with a Planning Permission. The Courts are responsible for compliance with any order made.
Please use the following link and navigate to the heading titled: Planning Enforcement Guidelines Complaint Form and Online Complaint Form.
Penalties for Breaches of Planning Law
It is an offence to undertake any work needing Planning 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 you may have to pay the costs and expenses incurred by the Planning Authority. On conviction in the District Court, significant fines can be imposed, together with fines per day for continuing offences and/or to a term of imprisonment of six months. On conviction in the higher Courts, more substantial fines is can be imposed, together with substantial fines per day for continuing offences and/or to a term of imprisonment of two years.
Rectifying Planning Unauthorised Development
Genuine mistakes can be made in relation to the need for Planning Permission. If you undertake unauthorised development, you may apply for Planning 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 you may be required to carry out costly modifications.
The application fee for retention of an unauthorised development is also three times the fee for an application made for a proposed development. Permission for retention does not automatically absolve you from prosecution if enforcement action has already been taken against you. If you are buying property, check that the building itself and any extensions or alterations to it have a Planning Permission or are exempt from requiring Planning Permission. You, as the new owner, may be liable to enforcement action.
You will not be entitled solely by reason of Planning Permission to carry out your proposed development. You may need other approvals, depending on the type of development. For example, all new buildings, extensions, alterations and certain changes in the use of existing buildings must comply with Building Regulations, which set out basic design and construction requirements. Non-residential developments will probably require a Fire Safety Certificate under the regulations. You may also need permission if making a connection to a public water main or sewer.
Further planning information leaflets including 'A Guide to the Building Regulations, PL. 11' can be accessed on the following link: Planning Leaflets.