All you need to know about planning permission

May 15th, 2022 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

Planning permission is needed for any extension which is more than 40 square metres.(Photo: Shutterstock)

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IF you wish to build a house, you must obtain planning permission from your local authority before you start construction. The law requires that you need planning permission for virtually every significant development. It is important to be aware from the start therefore, that if you fail to obtain planning permission where it is required, you may run the risk of penalties which can carry very heavy fines and even imprisonment.

Q. How do I apply for planning permission?

A. You apply for planning permission by filling in a planning application form and submitting it together with required documents to your local authority.

You must give a public notice of your proposals before making an application for planning permission. This must be done by placing a notice in a locally circulating newspaper (your local authority will have a list) and putting up a site notice which can be clearly read. You will find details of information that must be contained in the notices and the prescribed format of the notice in the planning application form.

You must get the application to the local authority within two weeks of the notice appearing in the local newspaper. The site notice must be put up on or before the day you make the application and stay there for at least five weeks afterwards. (note nine days over Christmas, from 24 December to 1 January, are not taken into account when calculating the five-week period).

You must not start building before you receive the grant of permission.

Q: What happens after I submit my application?

A: Anyone can make a written submission or observation objecting to or supporting your planning application. It costs €20 to make a submission. Generally, the local planning authority must make a decision on a planning application within eight weeks of receiving the application, but if the local authority needs more information, or the decision is appealed, it may take much longer. The decision will be notified in writing to you and anyone who commented on your application.

Q. If I get planning permission, how long does it last?

A. Planning permission normally lasts for five years.

Q. What can I do if my application is refused?

A. If the local authority refuses your application, it will give you the reasons for this. You have four weeks from the date of this decision to make an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

Q. Do I need planning permission to alter my house?

A. If you are going to build an extension or make other changes to your house, you may need planning permission from your local authority.

The most common reasons for needing planning permission are when you want to:

• Build an extension which is more than 40 square metres (this includes new and any existing extensions)

• Change how the land is used, like converting a garage to a place of business. This is known as a material change of use.

Generally, you do not need planning permission for minor changes to your house.

However, you should always make sure that you don’t need planning permission before you start building. If do you not get planning permission when it is needed, you may have to pay a large fine or even face going to prison. Your local authority can advise you if you have questions.

Q. Can I build a garage or shed at the back of my house without planning permission?

A. You can build a garage or shed at the back or side of a house as long as it:

• Does not extend out in front of the building line of the house

• Is 4 metres or lower in height if it has a tiled or slated pitched roof, or three metres in height if it has any other roof type

You do not need planning permission for this type of garage or shed as long as the floor area on its own or in conjunction with any similar structures is limited to 25 square metres.

The new garage or shed should not reduce the open space at the back or side of the house to less than 25 square metres.

Garages or sheds to the side of the house must match the finish of the house.

There are certain rules you must follow when building a garage or shed. They must not be:

• Lived in

• Used for commercial purposes

• Used for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses

Q. What is the current fee for a planning application?

The current fee for an application to build a house is €65. The fee for a house extension or the conversion of a garage for use as part of a house is €34. This is payable to the local authority. You may also be required to make a contribution to the construction of any road, water supply or sewerage works, which may be necessary.

Q. What happens if I need planning permission but don’t apply for it or get it?

It is an offence to do work that requires planning permission, without having planning permission. This offence can carry very large fines and possible imprisonment. However, if a genuine mistake has been made, it is possible to apply for planning permission to retain an unauthorised development. This permission can be refused, in which case, the unauthorised development will have to be demolished.

If you have any questions regarding planning issues or concerning your application for planning permission, contact the Planning Department of Cork County Council.


If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. WEST CORK HELPLINE 0818 07 8390

The offices are staffed from 10am -5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am -4pm. Alternatively you can email on [email protected] or log on to

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