A public representative may participate in the planning appeal process in his / her own right as a party to an appeal or as an “observer”. In that case, he or she must comply with all the usual statutory requirements such as time limits, payment of fees, and the fact that a person cannot elaborate in writing on the grounds of appeal or a submission unless requested by the Board.
If a public representative writes to the Board making an enquiry as to the position in an appeal or requesting the speeding up of the processing of an appeal or simply supporting / opposing the appeal in general terms without elaborating on the grounds of the appeal or on a submission by an observer, a fee is not payable by the representative. The bulk of correspondence received by the Board from public representatives falls within these categories.
When, however, a public representative sends a letter to the Board and the Board considers that the letter elaborates on the grounds of appeal or on a submission by an observer or raises a substantive new issue, the letter is formally regarded by the Board as constituting an observation. In that event, the letter cannot be considered by the Board unless it is accompanied by the current fee and the letter complies otherwise with the requirements of section 130 of the 2000 Act.
Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, the Inspector appointed by the Board has discretion as to the conduct of an oral hearing and is required to exercise this discretion with courtesy and reasonableness. In particular, the Inspector is obliged to conduct the hearing without undue formality. The order of speakers is determined by the Inspector.
An existing party to an appeal or an “observer” and / or other person representing them (such as a public representative or an agent) may speak / make submissions at the oral hearing without payment of a further fee.
The Inspector has discretion to hear a person other than an existing party or an observer, where it is considered appropriate in the interests of justice to allow the person to be heard, provided that the person concerned pays the required fee.
Correspondence regarding appeals should be addressed to: The Secretary, An Bord Pleanála, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.
Correspondence regarding current appeals or decisions already made by the Board should not be addressed to the Chairperson or any other Board member.