Clarification on the operation of Planning System during COVID-19 Emergency

CONTINUITY OF PLANNING SERVICES

Despite the current COVID 19 emergency, Waterford City & County Council continues to provide a range of planning services including the processing and determining of planning applications, as well as associated public submissions/observations.

To enable the continued delivery of planning services, and to facilitate public engagement in the process during the COVID 19 emergency, changes have now been made to planning legislation to provide for a three week extension of time for already commenced public consultation periods, for compliance with any requests/directions made by the planning authority and for the determination of all current planning applications. These new legislative provisions are modelled on an existing and long-established provision of the Act which applies in normal circumstances every year over the Christmas period.

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 public submissions can be received and within which planning decisions can be made.

While our public counters have been temporarily closed on the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team, applicants can continue to lodge planning applications by post and the public can view those applications online at: http://www.waterfordcouncil.ie/departments/planning/planning-enquiries/online-planning-enquiries.htm

Members of the public can continue to make submissions by post or by email using the following email address: planning@waterfordcouncil.ie and should in all instances provide contact telephone numbers to enable the planning authority to verify their submissions and to make arrangements for the payment of any associated fees.

In addition, submissions by applicants for planning permission (such as responses to requests for further information) that would normally be presented at the public counters can now be submitted by email and will then be processed in the normal way.

Face-to-face pre-planning meetings with prospective applicants have been temporarily suspended but our District Planners will continue to engage in pre-planning consultations by email and telephone with those who have completed and submitted the form which is available on our website at: http://www.waterfordcouncil.ie/media/forms/planning/English/PDF/PrePlanningApplicationForm-2020.pdf

TEMPORARY PLANNING EXEMPTIONS

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has also introduced two specific temporary planning exemptions to deal with issues arising specifically as a result of the current COVID 19 emergency. These are:

a) For the period of the emergency, the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and the associated Regulations will not apply to certain classes of development by or on behalf of a State authority. This may include 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.

b) A change in use from a premises selling food for consumption on the premises to one providing food for consumption off the premises, during the period of the emergency, will be considered an exempt development.

USEFUL LINKS AND FURTHER DETAILED CLARIFICATION

The following documents provide clarifications on the operation of the planning system during the current COVID-19 emergency:-

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