Publications & Insights COVID-19 - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 – Planning Function
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COVID-19 - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 – Planning Function

Friday, 03 April 2020

Calculation of time limits relating to planning and development

On 27 March 2020, the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (COVID-19) Act 2020 (the “2020 Act”) was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. Part 3 of the 2020 Act entitled “Calculation of Time Limits Relating to Planning and Development” inserts a new Section 251A into the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) (the “2000 Act”). It places a freeze on various time limits (or appropriate periods, or specified periods) set out in: 

  • the 2000 Act;
  • the Derelict Sites Act 1990;
  • Sections 4(4), 6 and 17(6) of the Building Control Act 1990, as amended;
  • Part 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015;
  • Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016; and
  • any regulations made under any of the above Acts or provisions.

By way of example, this includes the four week period to appeal the decision of the planning authority to An Bord Pleanála under section 37 of the 2000 Act, and the eight week period for taking a judicial review of a planning decision under section 50 of the 2000 Act. Similarly, it means that the time limits by which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála must make decisions on an application or an appeal are suspended the life of a planning permission from the date of the grant is also extended. On 29 March 2020 the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy TD, signed a Commencement Order bringing into effect Part 3 of the 2020 Act. The freeze runs until 20 April 2020, however it can be extended further but will run no later than 9 November 2020. 

New planning and development regulations

On 29 March 2020 the Minister also made two new Regulations under the 2020 Act which will run until 9 November 2020:

  • The Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No.2) Regulations, 2020 provides, that, for the period of the emergency, a change in use from a premises selling food for consumption on the premises to one providing food for consumption off the premises will be considered an exempt development. Such change of use therefore cannot be subject to enforcement action by the planning authority for unauthorised use.   
  • The Planning and Development Act 2000 (Section 181) Regulations, 2020 provide for the non-application of the 2000 Act 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.

Guidelines for planning authorities

Also on 29 March 2020 the Minister issued Guidelines for Planning Authorities on the Enforcement of certain planning conditions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Guidelines suggest three specific areas where planning authorities should use their discretion and exercise an appropriate level of flexibility in respect of conditions of planning permission that: 

  1. Govern the hours of operation of and delivery to essential retail and wholesale outlets including food shops, pharmacies, supermarkets and critical retail supply chains;
  2. Restrict delivery and take-away activities in relation to restaurants and cafés; and
  3. Specify the hours of operation of childcare facilities.

The Guidelines shall remain applicable until such a time that they are revoked by the Minister but this date shall be no later than 9 November 2020.

For further information or advice, please contact Mona Costelloe, Valerie Hourigan or Peter Hennessy in the ByrneWallace Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team.

Please note that the content of this summary does not amount to professional advice. Legal and tax advice should be sought in respect of specific queries. The COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly and this update is provided on the basis of information available as at 3 April 2020.