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The planning system plays an important role in modern society by helping to manage development whilst protecting the environment in our towns, cities and countryside. It is not necessary to have detailed knowledge to make a planning application although at some point you will probably need professional help from a planning consultant, an architect, a surveyor and perhaps even a lawyer.
20.2 When is Planning Permission Required?
Although there are minor developments that are exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission, it is almost inevitable that a club will require planning permission for new development whether it is additional tennis courts, floodlighting or an extension to the clubhouse. An application for permission is made to the Planning Authority (PA) for the area in which the proposed development is situated. This will be the County Council, City Council or Urban District Council as the case may be. It is advisable to consult the relevant PA before making the application to identify potential problems in advance. It will save time and money. Such a meeting can be formal under Section 247 of the Planning Act and be recorded or it can be informal. The consultation will identify whether there are any elements of the proposal which are likely to be contrary to the Development Plan (or other Plans) for the area or that may arouse opposition from local residents or other interest groups. Never under-estimate the effectiveness of local opposition in blocking development proposals and always consider the best course of action to communicate your ideas locally.
20.3 Types of Application
There are two basic types of application, one for outline permission and one for ‘full’ permission. Outline permission is unlikely to be applicable or of relevance in the case of development associated with a tennis club so that ‘full permission’ will be required
20.4 Application and Fees
The PA can provide the necessary forms and the method of calculating charges for the application. These together with details of what must be included in the application will normally be available at the offices of the PA or by downloading from the PA’s website. You will also have to factor in the cost of placing a public notice in a newspaper circulating in your area as well as the erection of Site Notice(s)
20.5 Considering an Application
The PA will initially assess the application to determine whether or not it is valid. This can be a surprisingly tricky area. In some local authorities up to 40% of applications are believed to fail the validation process at the first attempt. On validation the proposed development will then be examined against the provisions of the Development Plan (and other Plans) for the area.
The Development Plan is the planning blueprint regulating development in any given area. It will provide for and regulate future development. It contains planning objectives and planning policies. The PA can tell you which policies and objectives apply to your proposal. The key issue will be whether the development is compatible with the zoning of the area but many other considerations will apply. Typical considerations would include traffic generation and parking, impact on local residential amenities including noise, floodlighting, opening hours, visual appearance etc.
There may also be a Local Area Plan that covers the site of your proposal. It will normally contain additional detail on how the area should be developed. Other Plans such as Action Area Plans or Framework Plans may also be of relevance.
The application will be circulated to relevant departments such as Roads Engineering and
a planning assistant will then prepare a report recommending whether permission should be granted or not having considered the provisions of the Development Plan/Local Area Plans etc. He or she will also consider submissions made by interested persons. Such submissions must be made within 5 weeks of the date of lodgement of the application and these submissions can often consist of objections on various grounds.
(If you are considering large-scale development in the future it may be worth making a submission to the PA when they are reviewing the Development Plan to request them to facilitate your proposals).
The PA has a statutory 8-week period to process an application from lodgement although in more complex cases this could take longer as additional information is frequently requested. If such information is requested the applicant will normally have up to six months to reply and the PA then has 4 weeks to complete its assessment. A Planning Permission normally has a 5-year lifetime.
20.7 Decision to Grant Permission/Refusal
The PA will decide to either grant permission or refuse permission. A decision to grant will normally contain conditions. A typical one for floodlighting would set restrictions on the hours of operation. Conditions requiring contributions to the PA are also frequently included. The ‘final’ grant of permission will be issued only at the expiry of the appeal period (provided no appeal is lodged), which is 4 weeks after the date of the Authority’s decision. If the PA refuses permission they will give their reasons in writing. If you are unhappy about the reasons for refusal (or the conditions imposed), you can appeal to an Bord Pleanala within 4 weeks of the date of the PA’s notice of decision. The Board has a statutory objective of deciding on appeals within a four-month period however currently appeals are averaging 6 months. A fee is payable to An Bord Pleanala for appeals. Details are available on their website
Third party appeals are frequent and these can only be lodged by persons who have earlier made submissions to the PA during the aforementioned 5- week period. The third parties also have a 4-week period within which to appeal. You will be afforded an opportunity by the Board to comment on these third party appeals.
20.8 Summary Checklist
1. Consult the Local Planning Authority
- To determine the cost of an application
- To identify potential problems about the proposals.
- To consult the relevant Development Plan.
- To identify whether there are any relevant Supplementary Planning Documents such as Local Area Plans, Area Action Plans, Framework Plans etc.
2. Communicate your ideas about the Proposal
- To the Planning Authority.
- To Club Members, etc.
- To local residents and interest groups
- To local public representatives
3. Obtain and complete the relevant application documentation and enclose the drawings and other information required as well as copies of the Newspaper and Site Notice(s) and the necessary fee.
4. Allow time in your overall project development programme for the planning process to take place.
References / Further Reading
Each PA has an area on its website devoted to making and following Planning Applications and there is a lot of useful information on the whole planning process on these sites. An Bord Pleanala too has a website that contains much useful information.
Do not forget that your proposal must comply with the Building Regulations and that a Fire Safety Certificate may well be required depending on the nature of the development.