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Enforcement and Compliance with Building Regulations

This section deals with the regime local authorities have in place to ensure compliance with building regulations, and the measures available to enforce compliance.



Development Plans and Development Control

A general definition to Development Plans is given in this article. How these plans are implemented and controlled is also discussed here.

Development Plan

The main instrument for regulation and control of development is the Development Plan. Each planning authority is required to publish notice of its intention to review its plan, not later than 4 years after the making of a development plan. A new plan must be made every 6 years (i.e. 2 years after the notice of the intention to review the plan has been published). The plan states the authority's policies for land use and for development control and promotion in its area. The authority, in exercising control, must consider the provisions of the Plan, and try to secure its objectives.

In general, the Plan shows the authority's objectives for the sole or primary use of particular areas (e.g. residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural), for road improvements, for development and renewal of obsolete areas, and for preserving, improving and extending amenities. Public participation in making the Plan is important. The public can become involved in the making of the development plan, at the initial stage, when the planning authority publishes its intention to review the plan, at the draft plan stage and if applicable, at the amended draft plan stage.

At all these stages, the public can make submissions or observations, within specified time periods, on what is being proposed by the planning authority at all these stages. Notice of the making of the draft plan is published and the draft plan goes on public display for at least 10 weeks, during which time the public may make submissions on its content. Any submissions received within the specified period must be considered before the Plan is adopted. Before a plan is adopted, copies of the draft must be sent to various statutory and voluntary bodies, who may be able to give the authority specialist advice.

Development Control

All decisions to grant or to refuse planning permission are firstly for the relevant planning authority, and for An Bord Pleanála (the Planning Appeals Board) in an appeal. The Local Government Act, 2001 provides the framework for reserved and executive functions. Reserved functions are performed by elected councillors, executive functions by the authority's manager or delegated officials. Granting or refusing planning permission is an executive function. Under the Local Government Act, 2001, elected councillors can, by resolution, direct the manager to take a particular action. The use of this power for planning applications is restricted, and only occurs in a small number of cases.

All development, unless specifically exempted, needs planning permission. Where there is doubt over what constitutes development, anyone can refer the case to the planning authority for a decision on payment of the prescribed fee. The declaration made can be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, within 4 weeks of the issuing of the declaration, on payment of the prescribed fee. In general, authorities must decide planning applications within 8 weeks of the date of receipt of the application. The applicant or any person who made a valid submission in writing, in relation to the planning application, to the planning authority can appeal to An Bord Pleanála, within 4 weeks of the decision.

In deciding applications, authorities are restricted to considering the proper planning and development of the area concerned, including the preservation and improvement of amenities, the development plan, and any valid, written submissions or observations made on a proposed development. The fee for making a submission or observation on a planning application is currently €50. For details on the fees for making planning applications, you should contact your local planning authority. Where permission is refused, or granted with conditions, the authority must give reasons for the decision. A planning permission normally lasts for five years, but may be extended in certain cases.




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