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Pre-planning enquiries

What is a pre-planning enquiry

The planning process can be complex and difficult to understand, particularly for those who may be unfamiliar with the system. The purpose of pre-planning is to afford the opportunity to an applicant for planning permission, to seek advice from the planning authority on the proposed development.

As stated in Section 247 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended), “In any consultations under subsection (1), the planning authority shall advise the person concerned of the procedures involved in considering a planning application, including any requirements of the permission regulations, and shall, as far as possible, indicate the relevant objectives of the development plan which may have a bearing on the decision of the planning authority”.

The system as a whole is designed to be objective, open and fair. Planners are obliged to explain to applicants, and potential applicants, the planning authority’s policies in relation to particular areas of the county and the considerations taken into account in dealing with particular classes of applications e.g. housing, retail, commercial etc. In addition, planners will endeavour to assist in identifying possible alternative locations where a particular proposal on a specific site is considered to be unacceptable.

Planners will advise the person concerned of the issues involved in considering a planning application, including any requirements of the permission regulations, and shall, as far as possible, indicate the relevant objectives of the development plan and any particular constraints which may have a bearing on the decision of the planning authority.

How to make a planning enquiry

A pre-planning consultation request form must be completed in order to submit a pre-planning enquiry. The following minimum information must be submitted for all pre-planning enquiries:

  • Name, address and contact phone number(s)
  • Address/townland of site
  • Site location map minimum 1:2500 scale
  • Legal interest in site e.g. owner, prospective purchases etc.
  • A clear and detailed description of proposed development/nature of enquiry and any additional supporting information as necessary including photographs, sketches or preliminary drawings.

If any of the above are omitted the pre-planning enquiry shall be returned. It should also be noted that pre-planning requests should relate to a specific proposal for the land in question. Those that are speculative in the sense that they refer to lands/ property with the applicant requesting advice in general together with queries relating to sites that are up for auction and seeking advice for “development potential” for their lands cannot be dealt with by the planning authority. The planning authority does not consider it appropriate nor has it the resources to deal with such queries and the applicant should consult the relevant development plans and/or seek appropriate professional advice.

In relation to small scale developments, this advice may be given via, a telephone call, correspondence or email. it is not always necessary to hold a pre-planning meeting.

Download a pre-planning consultation request form

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Major developments

Should a pre-planning enquiry for a major proposal be submitted and a meeting requested, it would be the intention of the planning authority that this meeting will be held no later than 1 month from date of request. Furthermore it would be appropriate to contact the relevant area planner as soon as the request is made, in order to ascertain if the planner could meet the potential applicant at an earlier stage or get officials from other departments of the local authority to attend this meeting.

Advice given

It should be noted that any advice is given in good faith and without prejudice to the formal consideration of any subsequent planning application. Article 247 (3) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 2000 (as amended) states that “the carrying out of consultations shall not prejudice the performance by a planning authority of any other of its functions under this Act, or any regulations made under this Act and cannot be relied upon in the formal planning process or in legal proceedings.” Formal consideration of a planning application is necessarily more extensive than consideration at the pre-application stage because of consideration of any internal technical reports e.g. environment section or submissions from a third party or prescribed bodies.

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Record of pre-planning enquiries

A record of all responses issued to pre-planning enquiries and minutes of meetings are kept on file and in the event that the applicant(s) make a formal planning application, the applicant should answer question 14 in the planning application form and state the date of meeting (if any) and pre-planning reference number.

Legislative background to pre-planning consultations

Section 247 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended) introduced formal procedures for pre-planning consultations, commonly know as pre-planning discussion, between potential applicants who have an interest in the land and the planning authority.

The full text of Section 247 is set out below:

  1. A person who has an interest in land and who intends to make a planning application may, with the agreement of the planning authority concerned (which shall not be unreasonably withheld), enter into consultations with the planning authority in order to discuss any proposed development in relation to the land and the planning authority may give advice to that person regarding the proposed application.
  2. In any consultations under subsection (1), the planning authority shall advise the person concerned of the procedures involved in considering a planning application, including any requirements of the permission regulations, and shall, as far as possible, indicate the relevant objectives of the development plan which may have a bearing on the decision of the planning authority.
  3. The carrying out of consultations shall not prejudice the performance by a planning authority of any other of its functions under this Act, or any regulations made under this Act and cannot be relied upon in the formal planning process or in legal proceedings.
    1. In order to satisfy the requirements of this section, a planning authority may specify that consultations may be held at particular times and at particular locations and the authority shall not be obliged to enter into consultations otherwise than as specified by it.
    2. Where a planning authority decides to hold consultations in accordance with paragraph (a) it shall, at least once in each year, publish notice of the times and locations at which consultations are held in one or more newspapers circulating in the area of the authority.
  4. The planning authority shall keep a record in writing of any consultations under this section that relate to a proposed development, including the names of those who participated in the consultations, and a copy of such record shall be placed and kept with the documents to which any planning application in respect of the proposed development relates.
  5. A member or official of a planning authority is guilty of an offence if he or she takes or seeks any favour, benefit or payment, direct or indirect (on his or her own behalf or on behalf of any other person or body), in connection with any consultation entered into or any advice given under this section.

Page last reviewed: 10/05/11

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