Planning Law

Whether you are applying for planning, wish to lodge an observation to a planning application are affected by a CPO or are a planning authority defending proceedings Tully Rinckey can assist you.

The Planning Process in Ireland

The Planning process in Ireland is decentralised to the local authorities who are responsible in the first instance for dealing with planning applications for new permissions, retention permissions and enforcement of unlawful planning.

Additionally on a macro level every five years Local Area Plans are drawn up by the authorities and are voted on by the democratically elected members of the local authorities at which point the development strategies are put in place for the next five year cycle.

With regard to individual planning applications on a micro level individual applications are first made to the local authority concerned and if required An Bord Pleanála has a supervisory role and is a statutory body set up to hear planning appeals from the local authorities.  They may hold oral hearings on planning matters of strategic importance.

Once An Bord Pleanála has issued a determination it is binding unless it is appealed by way of a judicial review to the High Court.

Planning services offered

Whether you are applying for planning, wish to lodge an observation to a planning application are affected by a CPO or are a planning authority defending proceedings Tully Rinckey can assist you.

Tully Rinckey Solicitors have particular expertise in planning law, advising a range of clients on observations to local authorities, appeals to An Bord Pleanála, judicial reviews, planning injunctions and defending planning enforcement proceedings.

Firm solicitors can provide advice on emerging issues in a variety of commercial or contentious matters. Our Solicitors assist clients with securing planning consents and delivering their projects, infrastructure schemes and a range of other legal aspects of related to the development. Solicitors regularly represent their clients at oral hearings, judicial review planning injunction proceedings and defence of prosecutions under Irish planning laws.

Our Solicitors regularly provide advice to businesses, local authorities and a range of other statutory bodies on all aspects of planning law, including:

  • Planning applications
  • Observations on planning applications
  • Appeals to An Bord Pleanála
  • Judicial review Applications
  • Planning disputes and litigation,
  • Preparing observations regarding local area plans,
  • Strategic development zones,
  • Transport strategy issues and
  • Unauthorised development and enforcement proceedings.

To schedule an initial consultation, contact us at +353-1-9637000  or



Planning Applications in Ireland

The Planning Application process in Ireland is quite technical. In the first instance the application is made to the local authority in whose jurisdiction you are apply for planning. If you are aggrieved by a particular planning decision you may appeal it to An Bord Pleanála if you are the applicant or an observer to the original planning application.

There are a number of procedures and different types of permission such as

  • Planning permission for one off housing
  • Planning permission for alterations/ extensions
  • Planning permission for Developments
  • Planning permission for retention of development

There are three types of permissions

  • Outline Permission where only the plans and particulars are lodged
  • Permission consequent on outline permission
  • Permission (known as full permission)

Checklist for Planning

The Planning Acts and Planning Regulations set out the procedure for each permission. Each local authority usually publishes its own planning checklist. In general what is required is

  • The planning application form
  • A copy of the site notice
  • A site map with the location of site and other markings as required
  • A newspaper advertisement in the required form published in a local paper 2 weeks prior to lodgment
  • A description of the development and the nature of the development
  • Requisite forms if special conditions apply
  • The applicable fee

Processing of Planning Application

The Local Authority will review the application and make raise assessments for further information if required.

Any member of the public is entitled to take up a copy of the planning or make observations for the applicable fee.

The Decision to grant planning will normally be accompanied by various conditions of planning.

The standard duration for a grant of planning permission to be implemented is five years after which it will lapse.

Section 35 of the Planning Act -Refusal of Permission

The Planning authority may refuse permission under this provision where it forms the opinion that there is a risk that a proposed development would not be completed in accordance with the permission sought. This is generally where the applicant has failed to comply with a previous permission or has carried out unauthorised development.

The applicant may apply to the High court to have the refusal judicially reviewed.

Appeals to An Board Pleanála

An Appeal to An Board Pleanála is available to persons who have had planning applications rejected by a local authority. An appeal is also available to persons who have lodged objections or observations relating to a planning application to a local authority.

Time Limits of Appeals to An Board Pleanála

An appeal of any planning decision must generally be made within four weeks beginning on the date of the decision of the planning authority.

An Board Pleanala has a helpful calendar facility on their website which highlights the relevant day or last day of appeal from the date of the decision that was made.

 Form of the Appeal to An Board Pleanála

 A large number of appeals are rejected on the basis that they do not meet the criteria set down by the planning legislation and regulations. The appeal must be accompanied by:

  1. The correct fee.
  2. Where an observation has been lodged the original stamped receipt of that observation received from the planning authority.
  3. In the prescribed form detailing the name and address of the applicant and/or his agent together with the correct reference, grounds of appeal and form.

 Grounds of the Appeal to An Board Pleanála

 Appeals should be carefully thought out and structured and supporting documentation should be attached where appropriate. The grounds of the appeal should be set out in sequential order. It is important that the grounds of appeal constitute the entirety of the challenge to the planning decision under appeal as no subsequent information may be lodged once the application has been made.

Tully Rinckey can assist you in formulating the grounds of your appeal.

 Lodging of an Appeal to An Bord Pleanala

 An Bord Pleanala’s offices are located on the second floor of Marlborough Street, Dublin 1. The office hours are 9.15 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Monday to Friday. A valid appeal must be received by the board and it is therefore important to ask the officials of An Bord Pleanala to check the appeal, and form of the appeal including attachments and provide a receipt for same. It is our office practice to attend personally when lodging the appeal to An Bord Pleanala.

 Overview of Appeals to An Bord Pleanala

Appeals documentation are public documents. Once a valid appeal is lodged the documentation is sent to the planning authority. In most cases the board will appoint an inspector who will be a qualified planner to consider the case. The inspector usually visits the site and may take photographs and issues a report. The board members then convene to consider the report and to file and make a decision. The decision is usually made within eighteen weeks but this time can be extended.

If an Appellant is unhappy with a decision of An Board Pleanala, and has sufficient grounds it may consider whether a judicial review of the decision is appropriate. Please see our separate note on judicial review in this regard.


Enforcement of Planning in Ireland

Any person can make a complaint regarding unauthorised development in Ireland by contacting the Enforcement section of the local planning authority. Unauthorised development may be a building or activity that is either in breach of a planning condition or for which no planning permission has been obtained and is not exempt development.

It is required for the local authority to investigate all complaints unless they believe it to be frivolous or vexations.

Generally there is a period of 7 years from the commencement an unauthorised development within which the local authority can bring enforcement proceedings.

Warning Letters

If the local authority inspector is of the view there is an unauthorised development they will carry out an inspection and may issue a warning letter in the first instance to put the person carrying out the unauthorised development on notice and to give them a period within which to cease the activity or to remedy the unauthorised development.

Enforcement Notices

Once the letter has issued the local authority has 12 weeks to issue an Enforcement Notice. An enforcement notice must be issued in the correct form and it sets out that the local authority has formed a view that a particular development is not in compliance with the planning acts.

Again the enforcement notice will set out a period within which to remedy the perceived breach and in the absence of compliance the local authority can apply to the Courts for enforcement.

Application to the Courts for Enforcement

Where there is unauthorised development, any person can take an injunction or make an application to the Courts to restrain or cease that development.

In the context of local authority enforcement when following the statutory process the jurisdiction (Circuit Court or High Court) will depend on the value of the land.

Offences and Penalties

There are a range of penalties, fines and sanctions depending on the seriousness of the breach.

For the construction of an unauthorised development the minimum fine is

  • €12,700 on indictable offences (before a jury) or the cost of construction whichever is less
  • €2,500 on summary offences. (before a judge) or the cost of construction whichever is less

The Planning acts set out other penalties and fines if convicted which can include daily fines or imprisonment.

It is important, if served with a warning letter, or if you believe that unauthorised development is being carried out which affects you to consult with a solicitor here at Tully Rinckey to protect your position.

Compulsory Purchase Orders- National Infrastructure Projects

In Ireland when statutory bodies require lands for infrastructure such as road, rail, or other national projects they will use a statutory mechanism known as compulsory purchase orders.

Large infrastructure projects in Ireland are generally the responsibility of the National Transport Authority.

National Infrastructure Projects Public Consultation Procedure

The first step in these types of projects is normally a public consultation process where the views of the persons whose legal interests are affected are canvassed, together with submissions from the wider public.

National Infrastructure Projects An Bord Pleánala Application

After the public consultation process the plans will be finalised and an application will be prepared by the relevant local and/or national transport authorities who are proposing the development and submitted to an Bord Pleánala. The application to the Board will require detailed submissions which will include environmental impact assessments (EIA) Assessments[1] and other assessments as set down by national and European legislation. Provisions will be required to deal with any protected structures or other structures with architectural and cultural significance.

[1] EIA Directive 85/337/EECe.

National Infrastructure Projects Oral Hearings

An Bord Pleanála has wide discretion as to when it will hold oral hearings. Oral hearings are generally held for;

  1. strategic infrastructure cases
  2. appeal cases which are complex or where significant national, regional or local issues arise
  3. compulsory purchase orders and related cases
  4. other case types when considered necessary

At oral hearings persons whose interests are affected are entitled to make observations which will be addressed by an Inspector appointed. The Oral hearings are in public and members of the public are entitled to attend but may not be entitled to participate. If a person has not made submissions previous to the formal oral hearing they will be required to apply to the Inspector to make submissions and if this is consented to by the Inspector they, or their advisors will be allowed to make submissions on the payment of the requisite fee. The requirement is generally that you can show a tangible effect of the proposal on your property or business or some other interest that is to be affected.

After an oral hearing has concluded the Inspector appointed will prepare a report for the Board. The Board will consider the Inspectors report and issue a decision and draw up an Order. The Inspectors Report, Board Direction and ultimate Board Order will be available published and publically made available online

Compulsory Purchase Orders and the Service of Notice to Treat

Within 18 months of the publication of the Order the acquiring authority is required to serve the requisite land owners with a document which puts them on notice of the acquisition known as the Notice to Treat. This is a legal document formally notifying the land owner that their land is to be acquired. On foot of this service the person whose interest is being acquired may submit a claim for compensation. This claim is usually carried out with the assistance of a professional valuer.

If a compensation figure can be agreed between the parties on consent then the transfer of land will progress in the ordinary way by way of a deed of transfer and the acquiring authority will normally pay reasonable legal fees incurred on the transfer of the interest.

Appointment of Property Arbitrator

If compensation cannot be agreed then legislation sets out a mechanism to resolve the impasse in that the matter can be set down for arbitration before the property arbitrator to determine the value of the take. An formal application together with the requisite fees to appoint an arbitrator is made to the land values reference committee in the Four Courts complex in Dublin.

Once the formal application is made then the matter is set down for hearing before the property arbitrator. The Arbitrator is an independent expert who will determine the correct amount of compensation payable for the interest acquired. The affected landowner is generally entitled to their reasonable professional costs as part of that process so it is advisable to obtain experienced representation in advance of the application. Professional advisors can include valuers, planners, engineers or road engineers as appropriate, together with legal advisors.

Ultimately the matter will be heard before the property arbitrator who will assess the relevant amount of compensation. Again all reasonable costs incurred will be awarded as part of the award.

Compulsory Purchase Orders Service of Notice of Entry

In parallel with that procedure, construction of the project will normally progress. When the acquiring authority actually physically requires the land for the purpose of the construction they can issue and serve an appropriate Notice of Entry. This authorises the acquiring authority to enter onto the lands and carry out the works required.

Compulsory Purchase Orders Calculation of Compensation Due

The calculation of compensation due is a complex exercise that should be guided by professional advisors.

As a starting point a review of the claimant’s title should be undertaken to ensure that all interests are captured and accounted for.

A compulsory purchase order compensation scheme is a somewhat artificial exercise which requires the enhancement, if any, by the proposed development to be discounted. The compensation is fixed at the value of the acquired property at the date of the Notice to Treat.

There are a number of heads of claim which may be available to a claimant such as the diminution or reduction of the resultant lands, loss of profits or goodwill, severance (where the land retained is split as a result of the CPO), injurious affection and disturbance. Other types of claim may be available depending on the project.

It is advisable, at the earliest instance to obtain the services of a competent valuer and legal advisor to ensure that you are receiving appropriate compensation for any compulsory purchase.


Tully Rinckey Dublin provides a wide range of Irish and international clients the full spectrum of legal services they need to achieve their commercial objectives in an increasingly complex and globalized world.

Our solicitors advise clients across multiple practice areas, including business law, corporate law, corporate immigration, employment law, intellectual property, data protection and tax law.

Tully Rinckey’s global platform allows our Dublin solicitors to quickly marshal relevant experience across different practice areas and offices. The integrated nature of the Dublin practice means our Irish solicitors work closely, and on a regular basis, with their counterparts across the globe, delivering an efficient and cost-effective legal service to our clients.

Commitment to Our Clients

Our team-oriented philosophy encourages open and ongoing communication. Our solicitors and other support staff working will work with you to ensure we understand your goals. Our commitment to you means meeting your objectives, working attentively and persistently toward your success, and efficiently adjusting to your changing needs.

Ethics and Professional Responsibility

At Tully Rinckey, we work relentlessly to ensure our ethical standards and level of professionalism surpass what is expected of us by our clients and the court. Our high ethical principles call us to treat clients with respect, offer affordability to members of the communities we serve, and provide composed and dignified representation.

Our Process

Our processes put the client first. We will communicate in a timely manner in plain English. In our consultations, we will listen to you, and take the time to understand your concerns. We will take the time to consider the most appropriate legal strategies. We will provide and explain all legal remedies and options that are available to you.

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