Making an observation on a planning application

Mon, Feb 1, 2021

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A short guide on making an observation on a planning application in Dublin

Making an observation on a planning application

The planning process

There are two main avenues for an applicant to make a planning application in Dublin. An application can be made to Dublin City Council. This would be where the majority of applications go. Applications for Strategic Housing Developments* (100 units or more and large-scale student accommodation) can be made directly to An Bord Pleanála.

For Dublin City Council the process looks something like this:

An Bord Pleanála’s decision is generally final, save for any judicial review.

For Strategic Housing Developments the process looks something like this:

Again this decision is generally final, save for any judicial review.

Will planning observations stop housing being built?

We are in need of quality housing in Dublin and nationwide. We absolutely do not encourage people to make observations just for the sake of objecting to a development. Nor do we see any evidence that Dublin City Council or An Bord Pleanála entertain such observations.

In the greater scheme of any material housing development the planning process is relatively short and the period for public observations is just weeks. Public input into the planning process is a core part of that process and not one we would sacrifice to shave a few weeks off a development timeline.

Should Dublin City Council or An Bord Pleanála deem that an observation has merit one of two things can happen

What do I need to include in my observation?

You need to include:

This needs to be done by the last date for observations. Dublin City Council or An Bord Pleanála adhere strictly to this deadline.

The substance of your observation

Your observation needs to be based on planning grounds. Observations that are not planning related are likely to be ignored. Where possible you should support your observation with reference to planning guidelines. Planning guidelines you can reference include:

Can I submit my observation online?

Yes both Dublin City Council or An Bord Pleanála accept observations online and will take payment online.

Note that An Bord Pleanála will accept a PDF or Microsoft Word Document. Dublin City Council will only accept a plain text submission of less than 6,000 words.

This means that Dublin City Council submissions cannot contain any formatting (tables, bulleted lists, headings, etc.) or pictures (site pictures, maps, etc.)

Does the number of observations matter?

In theory, it does not matter how many people make a specific observation. We are not aware of any planning decision that referenced the volume of observations as opposed to the merits of a specific observation.

Do I need to hire a planner?

The applicant will have hired professional staff (architects, engineers, town planners, environmental experts, etc.) to complete their application. It can be daunting for a lay person to review these deeply technical documents.

That said it is for the planners in Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála to review the observations made and to determine their validity.

If you, or a group of neighbours, want to hire a planner to help with your observation there are many professionals offering that service.

Who can see my observation?

You should take it as given that your observation will be public.

Dublin City Council publishes your observation, your name, and your address alongside the application files. Your phone number or email address will not be published.

An Bord Pleanála publishes the names of the people that made an observation in the planners report but notes that “Any submissions made to the Board are generally circulated and/or made available for public inspection.

Where can I find the details of a planning application

Dublin City Council - find a planning application

An Bord Pleanála - details on Strategic Housing Developments

Notes

Guides on making an observation

* Strategic Housing Developments were introduced by Minister Eoghan Murphy in 2017. The Green Party has in the past called for the process to be ended. The Programme for Government contains an agreement not to extend Strategic Housing Developments beyond their legislative expiry on 31 December 2021.

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