3. Pre Application Consultations (Stage 1)
It is a mandatory requirement for a prospective applicant for planning permission for development listed in the 7th Schedule to enter into pre-application consultations with the Board and obtain notice from the Board stating whether or not the proposed development is regarded as strategic infrastructure development. For the purposes of these consultations, the prospective applicant must supply sufficient information to the Board to enable it to assess the proposed development in the light of the criteria set out for strategic infrastructure development.
The purpose of pre-applications is set out in the Planning and Development Act, 2000, (as amended), and in the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (as amended). In pre-application consultations the Board may give advice to the prospective applicant regarding the proposed application and, in particular, regarding
Whether the proposed development constitutes 'Strategic Infrastructure Development', having regard to the provisions of the legislation.
The procedures involved in making an application for permission to the Board and in considering such an application.
Considerations, relating to proper planning and sustainable development or the effects on the environment, which may in the Board's opinion, have a bearing on its decision in relation to the application
An indication of the bodies/persons which the prospective applicant should consult with prior to lodging an application and completion of an EIAR.
The Prescribed Bodies (under Art. 213) which should be notified of the application.
Prospective applicants should note that it is not the purpose of pre-application consultations to conclude on the merits of a case. The Board may however indicate what considerations relating to the proper planning and sustainable development or the environment may have a bearing on its decision (see Paragraph 3.3.2 for further discussion).
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3.2 Request for Consultations
3.2.1 Before making a request for pre-application consultations, a prospective applicant should check to see if the proposed development is of a class listed in the 7th Schedule of the 2000 Act, as amended. If it is not, it cannot be deemed to be strategic infrastructure development and the application should be made to the local planning authority for the area.
3.2.2 An application for pre-application consultations should be made in writing and be addressed to The Secretary, An Bord Pleanála, 64, Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.
3.2.3 An application for pre-application consultations should generally include the following information:
- the name and address of the prospective applicant, contact telephone numbers and email address, if available,
- the name and address of the prospective applicant’s main agent, if any, contact telephone numbers and email address, if available,
- general description of the nature and scale of the proposed development, including drawings should these be available,
- address of the proposed development and a brief description of the site and surrounding area,
- A site location map(s) and a site map(s) showing the boundaries of the site,
- Where necessary, a statement of the prospective applicant’s legal interest to enable it to carry out the proposed development if approved,
- the class of development within the 7th Schedule to which the proposed development belongs,
- name of the planning authority or authorities, if more than one, in whose functional area(s) the site is situated,
- statement as to why or why not the prospective applicant considers the proposed development should be regarded as strategic infrastructure development having regard to the criteria set out in section 37A(2) of the 2000 Act (as amended) – see part 2 of these Guidelines.
Note: commercially sensitive information should not be submitted during pre-application consultations as all information on file will be available for public inspection at the close of the consultation stage. Prospective applicants should also note that the proposed development should be at a stage where it is mature enough to enter the pre-application consultation phase. Approaches to the Board where the proposed development is not properly defined or established can create undue delay with the process. (See also 3.3.1).
In accordance with the provisions of section 144 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, the Board has determined that a fee shall be charged for any request for pre-application consultations received on or after 5th September 2011. The fee should accompany a request for pre-application consultations. Please refer to the Board’s “Guide to Fees payable to An Bord Pleanála” for information on current fees.
3.2.5 On receipt of a request for pre-application consultations, the Board must notify the relevant planning authority (or planning authorities where the proposed application site would straddle different planning authority areas) of the request. This notification will consist of a letter describing the nature of the proposed development and a site location map(s).
3.2.6 Notice of all requests for pre-application consultations will be recorded on the Board’s statutory weekly list of new applications received and will be posted on the Board’s website (www.pleanala.ie).
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The nature of pre-application consultations may vary from case to case and may require more than one meeting. The Board will be represented at officer level (at least one inspector and one administrator). Board members will not be present at the meeting. The Board may require the prospective applicant to supply additional information to it in order for the Board to give its opinion. Discussions/meetings forming part of the pre-application consultations will generally take place in the Board’s offices. It is envisaged that a first meeting will be held within 4 weeks of the making of a formal request subject to the submission of satisfactory information to the Board. The timing and frequency of any further meetings will be dictated by the nature, scale and complexity of the proposed development, maturity of the project and prospective applicant’s requirements.
Although there are no statutory timelines within which pre-application consultations must be completed applicants should be aware of the Board’s obligation under section 37J of the Act to carry out pre-application consultations expeditiously and to avoid unnecessary delays. In order to facilitate the expeditious carrying out of consultations, requests for pre-application consultations should be made when the applicant has defined the project and generally requests should not be made at a very preliminary stage of a project.
During pre-application consultations the Board may indicate what considerations relating to the proper planning and sustainable development or the environment may have a bearing on its decision. For general guidance on such considerations and the matters a prospective applicant might be expected to address at pre-application consultations, see paragraph 5.6 following relating to the planning authority report. Most of the items mentioned will also be relevant to prospective applicants.
The Board may consult with the local authority(s) in whose area the site is situated, or with any of the relevant prescribed bodies. The purpose of any such consultations will be to identify any constraints that would affect the site and to ascertain whether there are plans or programmes being contemplated or undertaken that would have a bearing on the application. The Board may also consult with any other person who may have information which is relevant for the purposes of consultations.
Prospective applicants are strongly advised to directly and comprehensively engage with the local authority in whose area the site is situated, and with any relevant national, regional or prescribed bodies and with the public at the earliest possible stage in the formulation of their proposals.
3.3.3 Record of Consultations
The Board will make a record of any meetings held. It will forward a copy of the record, to the prospective applicant as soon as may be after (each of) the meeting(s). These will be treated as confidential by the Board until the consultation stage has concluded – see section 4.
Where the Board consults with the local authority in whose area the site is situated or with any prescribed body or other person, a record of such consultations will be made and a copy of such record(s) will be given to the prospective applicant at the next meeting. The record of any such consultations will also become publicly available when the pre-application consultation stage has concluded.
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3.4 Conclusion of Consultations
Following a written request from the prospective applicant seeking closure of the pre-application consultations, the Board will serve notice of its opinion on the prospective applicant and also on the relevant planning authority(s) and any other party that has been consulted.
3.4.2 Development not determined as SID
Where the Board issues notice that the proposed development is not regarded as strategic infrastructure development, any application must then be submitted to the relevant planning authority(s). There is the normal right of appeal to the Board by any person against the decision of any such planning authority on the application.
3.4.3 Development is determined as SID
Where the Board issues notice that the proposed development is regarded as strategic infrastructure development, the application must be submitted directly to the Board. When issuing the notice, the Board may indicate to a prospective applicant the following:
- which bodies, prescribed under article 213 of the Regulations, should be notified of the application by the prospective applicant,
- where the Board concludes that there would be likely significant effects on the environment in a Transboundary State, which bodies, in which States, should be notified and how many copies of the application and EIAR should be sent with the notification,
- any specific requirements in relation to Gaeltacht areas,
- the plans, particulars or other information required to be submitted in order to consider the application,
- the timeframes and sequencing of the application process,
- any other matters in relation to the application process including information in relation to the nature of the costs which may be awarded against the applicant under section 37H(2)(c) of the 2000 Act (as amended) and any fee to be paid, and the form in which the application should be submitted,
- the form and content of the public newspaper notice required to be published in advance of a planning application to the Board,
- whether the erection of a site notice is required by the Board, specify a location/place and/or website for making available the application, EIAR, NIS and any other relevant documentation for inspection or purchase at a reasonable fee (this information will be contained in the public notice),
- use of local or national media, and/or holding of meetings with any person or body or for the public.
It should be noted that responsibility for the accuracy of the description of both the development and its location in the public notices, on the website and in the application documents rests solely with the prospective applicant.
3.4.4 Other Matters
On completion of pre-application consultations:-
- the Board’s determination on the status of the proposed development will be recorded on the Board’s statutory weekly list of cases decided and will be posted on the Boards website (www.pleanala.ie).
- a copy of the Board’s file, including the records of any meetings, will be made available for public inspection.
3.4.5 Meetings Non-Prejudicial to Board
The holding of consultations does not prejudice the decision of the Board in any subsequent application in any way and cannot be relied upon in the formal planning process or in legal proceedings.