Planning Application process, so what happens?

We are setting the following scenario for your information only, where a Client intends to construct a dwelling on a rural site. We are not quoting a specific case history, but merely intend to illustrate the procedures required from a first consultation to lodgement of an application.

(1) Clients make first contact by email or telephone seeking an appointment to meet the Architect. Administrator sets appointment and holds a brief discussion on Clients instructions. Clients are advised to take along any maps available relating to the site and a family history, if the site is on family lands. Any sketches or photographs to illustrate design preferences should be taken to first appointment.

(2) First appointment taken by the Architect who discusses the proposal in general, local needs issues and the site location. Notes of accommodation, floor area and construction costs are taken. Approximate time span for the Architect's works is agreed. Architect's fees to planning application stage are discussed and agreed and an indication is given in relation to other outgoings and specialist's fees.

(3) Following the first appointment, the Architect issues correspondence to confirm fees, and a note of agreement for signature. Arrangements are made for a site visit. The Administrator commences work on application forms, local needs application and requests appropriate supporting information from the Clients.

(4) The Administrator orders and sources the Rural Place Maps and Land Registry Maps of the parent holding. On receipt of maps, copy is issued to the Engineer & Environmentalist with instruction to contact the Clients and carry out a contour survey and percolations tests on the site.

(5) The Architect sets down the first preliminary design drawing taking into account all the Clients information furnished. All required maps are scanned into the computer system. The preliminary design drawings are issued to the Client by preferred format e.g. paper copy, PDF, or AutoCAD.

(6) While the Clients are perusing the preliminary design, work continues in the Architects office, drawing up preliminary site layouts and addressing initial information received from the Engineer & Environmental Scientist.

(7) The Clients arrange their second appointment to discuss the preliminary design. The Architect discusses any revisions required and presents advice in relation to the site on the basis of information to hand. Preliminaries are now agreed and the Architect is ready to commence final planning stage drawings. The appointment continues with the Administrator to discuss the local needs issues that will satisfy the County Development Plan. The Clients will have compiled a file of personal documents for this purpose.

(8) The Administrator arranges to publish the newspaper notice on behalf of the client. When the Architect has completed the building drawings, site location map, site layout plan and landscaping proposal, these documents are cross referenced with the Engineer & Environmental Scientist. All the completed documents are printed and bundled. The Administrator completes all application forms and collates all the documents relating to the local needs issues. Six copies of all documents are prepared for the Local Authority and an appropriate number of documents for the Clients.

(9) The Administrator arranges the next appointment with the Clients. The Clients approve the final documents and sign the relevant forms. Fees are discharged for the Local Authority and for the Architect. The application is then lodged by the Architects office with the Local Authority.

A variation in the procedures may occur of course, where further preliminary design drawings are required; if there is difficulty with environmental or traffic issues or where further formal correspondence is required to satisfy the planning application. We employ electronic format where possible and in the future we anticipate that it will be possible to lodge a complete Planning Application in that manner.

Consideration of the planning application by the Local Authority is within a specific time frame. Planning law is complex and it would take a large book to outline the process. However, given no difficulty with this particular application, the procedure would run as follows:

(1) Application lodged. The Architect's office awaits validation by the Local Authority which takes place within five weeks. There are many reasons why an application is deemed invalid, some simple, and some complex.

(2) Upon validation, a planning reference number is allocated by the Local Authority and the countdown to decision begins; eight weeks from the receipt of the application by the Local Authority.

(3) Within the legal time frame, the Local Authority will either, decide to grant planning permission, decide to refuse planning permission or seek further (technical) information.

(4) Submissions may be notified to the Local Authority by a third party within the initial five week period, if they wish to raise any genuine concern.

(5) The Applicant or a third party (provided they have made a valid submission earlier) may lodge a planning appeal with An Bord Pleanala in respect of a decision to grant planning permission or a decision to refuse planning permission.

(6) If no planning appeal is lodged against a decision to grant planning permission, the Local Authority will issue a full grant of planning permission following four weeks from the date of the decision.

(7) Following receipt of the final grant of planning permission, the applicant must lodge a Commencement Notice to the Local Authority under the terms of the Building Control Act prior to construction.

This gives a brief outline of the process from the first appointment with your Architect. The information is not intended to be comprehensive as there are many complex issues to be dealt with from first appointment to achieving the final grant of planning permission. At all stages your Architect will monitor the application and keep you informed. As you will appreciate, it is important that you commission a qualified Architect to steer you through the process.