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Planning system time limits changed under emergency legislation

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Government has made orders under Section 251(A) of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended (“PDA”), which result in an extension of time by 23 days of a range of specified/appropriate periods and timelines under the PDA and other related legislation.

An Order under Section 251A means that the time periods specified for any statutory process in the PDA and related planning and building control legislation are disregarded, which means that they are, in effect, extended for the duration of the time period specified by the Order. The Order is in force from 29 March 2020 to 20 April 2020 inclusive and this could be extended.

An Order with a duration of 23 days, means that a planning authority will have the normal period of eight weeks, together with an additional period of up to three weeks and two days i.e. up to eleven weeks and two days in total, to determine a planning application. The calculation of the extended time period will depend on the date a planning application is submitted and the stage of the process it is at.

Planning applications may be determined

Planning applications may still be made, processed, validated and progressed. Applications submitted up to and including Friday 21st February 2020 may be determined as the minimum public consultation period has expired. However, the time period for determination may be extended by the Section 251A Order i.e. up to a further three weeks and two days.

Any planning application that was submitted to a planning authority after Friday 21st February 2020, cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until after Monday 20th April 2020. The five-week period for public consultation will not be completed prior to the expiry of the duration of the Order. The period for deciding any such applications must be extended by the full duration of the Order.

Submissions and pre-planning meetings

A planning application submitted after 29th March cannot be decided by the Planning Authority until the expiration of the five-week period for public consultation which will only commence after the Section 251A Order expires i.e. after Monday 25th May 2020.

Pre-planning meetings may continue insofar that such engagement can occur by electronic means but the timelines are extended by the duration of the Order. Submissions may be made electronically and timelines are extended under the Order.

Appeals/SHD Applications to An Bord Pleanála

Any planning application that was determined by a planning authority not more than four weeks prior to the commencement of an Order under Section 251A, may be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. The appeal period is extended on account of the order whereby the duration of the Order is excluded from the 4 week time limit. For cases determined by a local authority within the past 4 weeks, the period for appeal will extend beyond the end date of the Order. For decisions being made by a local authority between now and 20th April, the appeal period will be extended by the duration of the Order.

SHD applications may be made to the Board and arrangements are being put in place for them to be received. Where the public consultation period has ended in respect of planning appeals and/or strategic housing or infrastructure applications, the Board will continue to process and assess cases and will make decisions on those cases as possible and subject to COVID-19 restrictions on meeting for Board Members.


For any further information on this article please contact our Planning and Environmental Team.



Alice Whittaker


Rachel Minch SC


Leonora Mullett