ORS welcomes planning permission exemption on vacant commercial premises from Minister English

On the 8th February 2018, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, Damien English introduced three sets of amendment regulations to the Planning and Development Act 2000. The second set of regulations, namely, the Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018, proposes to introduce an exemption from planning permission on certain properties. The exemption applies to vacant commercial premises, including vacant spaces over shops, where there is a proposed change of use to residential. It is hoped this will add much needed housing while also maximising the use of vacant and underutilised spaces.

The exemption will apply for a limited period, ending in December 2021, which is also the lifetime of Rebuilding Ireland, the government’s action plan for housing and homelessness. To qualify for the exemption it must be a commercial building which has laid vacant for at least two years immediately prior to the commencement of the proposed development and where the number of units proposed is not greater than nine (9) in any one building. A commercial building for the purposes of this amendment is defined as:

  • Class 1 – Shop
  • Class 2 – Financial services,  professional services (other than health or medical services), any other services (including use as a betting office), where the services are provided principally to visiting members of the public.
  • Class 3 – Office, other than that mentioned above
  • Class 6 – Residential club, guest house, hostel.

Among other conditions to this exemption there is also a requirement for the developer to inform the planning authority in writing at least two weeks prior to commencement of any works.

Importantly, development works to vacant commercial buildings which are being converted to residential use under the proposed planning exemptions, will still have to comply with the requirements of the building regulations. There shall be no diminishment of the relevant statutory building control requirements whereby all conversion works for this type of development will still require:

Commenting on the exemption, Associate with Engineering firm ORS Darren Holmes said ’This is a welcome amendment to the Planning and Development Act. We regularly see a significant number of vacant commercial premises across the country. The exemption will encourage the development of much needed property to help with our severe shortage of homes.’

If you have a property that you think might qualify for the exemption, please feel free to contact Darren Holmes.

Block A, Marlinstown
Business Park, Mullingar,
Co.Westmeath, Ireland.
N91 W5NN

Pembr, 127 Baggot Street Lower, Baggotrath Dublin, D02 F634

Eyre Square,
H91 HY51

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High Road, Letterkenny,
Co. Donegal,
Ireland. F92 PX8N

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12 S Mall,
Centre, Cork,
T12 RD43

ORS has satellite offices in Newry and Maynooth.

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