An Bord Pleanála
What is An Bord Pleanála?
An Bord Pleanála is the national planning appeals board. It is an independent body which runs an open and impartial planning appeal system.
How does it work?
If you apply to your local authority for planning permission, the local authority reviews the application and any submissions or observations on it before they make a decision.
When they make a decision, you or anyone who has made a submission on the application can appeal the local authority's decision to An Bord Pleanála.
For more on making an appeal, see our webpage ‘Appealing a planning permission decision’.
What issues do An Bord Pleanála deal with?
An Board Pleanála deals with:
- Normal planning appeals: these are appeals about a planning authorities decision to accept, refuse or add conditions to planning permission
- Other planning appeals: the Board deals with lots of other planning appeals, for example, appeals about rights of way, cancelling planning permission, removing structures and planning schemes in strategic development zones
- Other appeals: the Board deals with a range of other appeals under different legislation. For example, appeals about a planning authority’s decision to register a site as vacant and appeals about the application of building regulations.
- Referrals: An Bord Pleanála can decide on certain planning issues that are referred to it. For example, a planning authority may ask the Board to decide if a development is an exempted development.
- Local authority infrastructure projects
- Compulsory acquisition of land
- Applications for strategic infrastructure projects, such as major road and rail projects
- Applications for strategic housing developments
- Other matters under the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended
It is responsible for determining appeals under:
- The Planning and Development Act 2000
- The Building Control Act 1990
- The Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977–1990
- Other Acts
The Board may also deal with new matters and other matters may be transferred or discontinued. The current functions of the Board are listed on pleanala.ie.
How is An Bord Pleanála structured?
An Bord Pleanála has a Chairperson and up to 9 other board members. The Board is supported by an administrative staff and a professional staff of planning officers and planning inspectors.
The Chairperson of the Board is appointed by the Government and holds office for a term of 7 years. Board members are appointed by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and hold office for terms of 5 years.
The Chairperson and Board members can be re-appointed for second or subsequent terms.
More Board members can be appointed if there is a high volume of cases.
The rules about membership of the Board are set-out in the Planning and Development Act 2000.
How does An Bord Pleanála make decisions?
Who makes the decisions?
Decisions about a planning appeal are never made by one person. This is to ensure that the Board's decisions are fair and impartial.
Normally, you need a minimum of 3 Board members to make decision. However, if a case is particularly sensitive or complex, all Board members are normally involved in the decision-making process.
Members of the Board, its employees and consultants are legally obliged to declare certain interests. This is to avoid any conflict of interest arising during the appeal process.
What do they consider when deciding?
The Board only makes their decision after they have considered all the relevant material. This includes:
- Submissions from the public
- The planning inspector's report and recommendation
If the Board's decision differs from the inspector's recommendation, the Board must give reasons for this in their decision order.
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage can 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 about a particular appeal.
Can they dismiss an appeal?
The Board can dismiss an appeal in certain circumstances. For example, if they believe the appeal was:
- Only meant to annoy or disturb
- Not serious
- Without any real substance
- Made to delay the development
- Made for a profit (such as money or gifts)
- Made by someone who can’t be identified
The Board aims to make a decisions on planning appeals within 18 weeks. However, if this is not possible, they will contact everyone involved in the appeal to update them.
There may be different timeframes in other types of cases. More information can be found on pleanala.ie.
Can the Board's decision be appealed?
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 on a point of law. In these situations, the High Court will judge if the Board followed due process in reaching its decision, but will not look at the planning merits of an appeal.
It is an offence to try and influence a Board member’s decision about a planning appeal.
Local authority development plans
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 consideration, the Board can go against the 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.
Can I view other planning appeal cases?
You can view new and decided cases at pleanala.ie. Anyone can inspect the entire file on an appeal for at least 5 years after the appeal is decided.
For more information, you should contact An Bord Pleanála or your local authority.