An Bord Pleanála (The Planning Board) is the national planning appeals board. It is an independent body which was set up by the Government to operate an open and impartial planning appeal system.
Anyone applying for planning permission and anyone who made written submissions or observations to the planning authority on a planning application, can appeal a subsequent planning decision to An Bord Pleanála.
The Board deals with planning appeals, other appeals, referrals, local
authority infrastructural projects, compulsory
acquisition of land and certain other matters under the Planning
and Development Acts 2000–2011. It is responsible for determining appeals
under the Building
Control Act 1990; the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977–1990;
and the Air
Pollution Act 1987. The Board also advises the Minister for Housing,
Planning, Community and Local Government on planning and development policy.
The membership of the Board is determined by the Planning and Development Acts 2000–2011. A Chairperson of the Board, holds office for 7 years and may be re-appointed for a second or subsequent term of office. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government appoints 9 other Board members. Eight are selected by 4 groups of organisations representing professional, environmental, development, local government, rural and local development and general interests. One member of the Board is a civil servant appointed by the Minister. Board members normally hold office for 5 years and may be re-appointed for a second or subsequent term. The Planning and Development Act 2000 allows for more Board members to be appointed, if the volume of cases makes this necessary. They are supported by an administrative staff and a professional staff of planning officers and planning inspectors.
Under the Planning Acts 2000, it is an offence to try and influence the
decision of any member of the Board in relation to a planning appeal. There are
also legal obligations on members of the Board, its employees and consultants
to declare certain interests. This is to avoid any conflict of interest arising
during the appeal process. The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and
Local Government has the authority to make decisions about general planning and
development policy and the Board must take them into account when making their
decisions. However, the Minister cannot influence the Board in relation to a
To make sure that all the Board's decisions are fair and impartial, no one person can make decisions about a planning appeal. The quorum for the Board is three members and if the case is particularly sensitive or complex, all members are normally involved in the decision-making process.
The Board only make their decision after they have studied all the evidence. This includes submissions from the public and the planning inspector's report and recommendation. In most cases, the decision of the Board follows the recommendation of the planning inspector but this is not always the case. If the Board's decision differs from the inspector's recommendation, the Board must give reasons for this in their decision order. The Board can dismiss an appeal if it decides that it is based on non-planning considerations, such as personal grievances or attempts to delay a development.
The Board aims to make a decision on an appeal within 18 weeks. Due to the large number of planning appeals it receives, it is not always possible to meet this deadline. If this is the case, it will inform all parties to the appeal.
Once a decision is reached in a planning appeal, the Board will not discuss
the pros and cons of the decision. All decisions are final and can only be
challenged by judicial review in the High Court. This process will judge
whether the Board followed due process in reaching its decision and will not
include an examination of the planning merits.
In certain cases, a planning inspector will hold an oral hearing. This may be at the request of a valid appellant or it may be the decision of the inspector. An oral hearing is generally only held if it will help the inspector to understand a particularly complex case, or if there are significant national or local issues involved. Some oral hearings are held to determine the motives behind an appeal. The inspector will decide on the order of the speakers and the hearing is usually quite informal.
The Board must make sure that all planning decisions stick to principles of proper planning and sustainable development. If they feel that a planning authority has not taken these principles into sufficient consideration, the Board has the authority to go against the provisions of a development plan. Generally, this would only happen where the proposed development is of local or national importance. The Board tries to strike a balance between environmental and economic considerations when they are determining appeals. In exceptional cases, they will take issues of economic development and job creation into account when making a decision.
The Board aims to make the planning process as open as possible. The entire file on an appeal can be inspected by any member of the public for at least 5 years starting on the third working day after the appeal is decided. A copy of the Board's order and direction and the inspector's report is also available.
For additional information, you should contact An Bord Pleanála or your local planning authority.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000. The Phone Service will operate Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm during January 2017. You can also visit your local Citizens Information Centre.