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Exempted development

Exempted development is development for which planning permission is not required. Categories of exempted development are set out in planning law (Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001(as amended)).

The purpose of exemption is to avoid controls on developments of a minor nature, such as a small extension to a house. Reference must be made to the legislation to ensure that the development falls within the exemption thresholds/limits. If the particular development exceeds the thresholds/limits listed, the development requires permission. 

Section 5 Declarations

Under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended), a person can seek a formal declaration from the planning authority to establish if there is a requirement for planning permission for a specific proposal.

You must complete the form P07 Application form for a declaration on development and exempted development (Section 5) and submit it to the planning authority along with a site location map and a fee of €80.00. You may include drawings, photos etc. If no further information is required, a decision will issue in four weeks from receipt of the request.The applicant may appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Exempted development - Frequently asked questions

Can a change of use be exempted development?

Yes. Where a change of use is not "material", planning permission is not required. The planning authority can give advice on whether it considers any particular change of use is significant enough to be "material" for planning purposes.

Can I build an extension?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, small scale domestic extensions, including conservatories, may not require planning permission if the extension is to the rear of the house and complies with the following:

  • The original floor area of the house is not increased by more than 40 square metres. It is important to note that where the house has been extended before, the floor area of the extension you are now proposing and the floor area of any previous extension, including those for which you got planning permission, cannot exceed 40 square metres
  • For terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 12 square metres, this includes any previous extensions carried out
  • Any extension above ground floor level is at least 2m from any boundary
  • Any extension does not exceed the height of the house
  • Any extension does not reduce the area of private open space, reserved for the occupants of the house, to less than 25 square metres.

There are also restrictions in relation to the height allowed in such an extension. These are that:

  • If the rear wall of the house does not include a gable, the height of the walls of the extension must not exceed the height of the rear wall of the house
  • If the rear wall of the existing house has a gable, the walls of the extension (excluding any gable being built as part of the extension) shall not be higher than the side walls of the house
  • In the case of a flat roofed extension, the height of the highest part of the roof may not exceed the height of the eaves or parapet. In any other case, no part of the new roof may exceed the highest part of the roof of the house
  • A gable is the upper part of a wall (normally triangular), between the sloping ends of a pitched roof.

There are also restrictions relating to the required distances between windows in extensions, the facing boundary of the adjoining property and the use of the roof of the extension. These are:

  • Any windows proposed at ground floor level as part of an extension should not be less than 1 metre from the boundary they face
  • Any windows proposed at above ground level should be not less than 11 metres from the boundary they face
  • The roof of any such extension should not be used as a balcony or roof garden

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Can I build a garage?

You can build a garage, carport, shed, greenhouse, kennel for domestic pets etc., as long as it does not extend out in front of the building line of the house and does not exceed 4 metres in height, (if it has a tiled or slated pitched roof), or 3 metres (if it has any other roof type). The floor area limitation for exempted development is 25 square metres.

The structure may not be lived in, used for commercial
purposes or for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses. Garages, sheds etc. to the side of the house must match the finish of the house. You cannot reduce the open private space, reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of the house, at the side or rear of the house below 25 square metres.

Can I build a front porch?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, you can build a porch without planning permission, as long as it does not exceed 2 square metres in area and is more than 2 metres from any public road or footpath. Where the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not exceed 4 metres in height, or 3 metres for any other roof type. A front porch within these limits is the only type of development allowed to extend beyond the front wall of the building (the building line) and still remain exempted.

Can I erect walls, fences and gates?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, capped walls made of brick, stone or block with a decorative finish, railings and wooden fences, but not a metal palisade or security fences, can be erected as long as they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height in front of your house or 2 metres at the side or rear. If the wall is made of plain blocks or mass concrete it must be rendered or plastered. Gates and gateways may be built or replaced providing they do not exceed 2 metres in height. You will need planning permission if you wish to make a new or wider access to the public road.

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Can I build a chimney and a boiler house?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, a boiler house or a chimney for a central heating system, or an oil storage tank (up to 3,500 litres capacity), is exempted development.

Can I build paths, ponds and patios?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, car parking spaces, hard surfacing, garden paths, garden ponds and patios etc. are exempt once they are not more than 1 metre above or below existing ground level. There are no other limitations to the rear of the house but no more than 2 car parking spaces to the side or front of the house are exempt.

Can I put up a television aerial?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars, a radio or TV aerial on your roof is exempt once it does not exceed 6 metres in height above the roof. A satellite dish up to 1 metre across and below the top of the roof is exempted development only to the rear or side of the house. Only one dish may be erected on a house. A dish to the front needs permission.This exemption does not apply to protected structures

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Can I carry out internal alterations, external repairs and maintenance?

Subject to site location, planning history and particulars,you can carry out any internal alteration you wish as long as you do not alter the use of the house. External works of repair, maintenance and improvement such as painting or re-plastering do not need planning permission so long as they do not materially affect the external appearance, thus rendering the appearance inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. You may need approval for certain external alteration e.g. a new connection to a sewer.

This exemption does not apply to protected structures, nor to the subdivision of a house into flats or granny flats. Planning permission must be obtained for such works.

Do I need permission to demolish a house?

Planning Permission must be sought to demolish a habitable house, or a building which forms part of a terrace of buildings or a building which abuts on another building in separate ownership before any demolition works take place.  The location of the structure(s) / building(s) to be demolished shall be indicated on the site layout map in distinctive colour.

What exemptions exist in relation to renewable energy?

Planning and Development Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 83 of 2007)
These Regulations set out planning exemptions for micro-renewable energy technologies for domestic houses and came into effect from 28 February, 2007.

The Planning and Development Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 235 of 2008) give effect to new exempted development provisions in respect of renewable technologies for industrial buildings, business premises and agricultural holdings. The Regulations provide exemptions for wind turbines, met masts, combined heat and power (CHP) plants, solar panels and biomass boiler units, subject to certain conditions, across each of the sectors.  The Regulations came into effect from 2 July 2008.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 09/05/14