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General Notes on Exempted Development

General Notes

When do I need planning permission?

Generally, you need planning permission for any development of land or property unless it is specifically exempted from this need. The term development includes the carrying out of works (building, demolition, alteration) on land or buildings and the making of a material (i.e. significant) change of use of land or buildings.

What is exempted development?

Exempted development is development for which planning permission is not required. Categories of exempted development are set out in planning law; relevant exemptions in relation to domestic developments are outlined on these pages (from leaflet PL5). There are usually certain thresholds relating to, for example, size or height; where these thresholds are exceeded, the exemptions no longer apply. The purpose of exemption is to avoid controls on developments of a minor nature, such as small extensions to houses.

Are there any limitations to exempted development?

All forms of development which are normally exempted lose this status and require planning permission if they--

  • contravene a condition of a planning permission;
  • endanger public safety by causing a traffic hazard or obstructing the view of road users;
  • build forward of the building line (except in the case of small porches);
  • involve a new or wider access to a public road;
  • affect a building, feature, site, etc., listed for preservation in the development plan or draft plan (check your local development plan);
  • obstruct a public right of way;
  • are not wholly related to the use of the house for domestic purposes;
  • involve development within a special amenity area;
  • involve development to a protected structure;
  • include any works to, or changes to, an unauthorised structure, or one where there is an unauthorised use.

("Unauthorised" means without the benefit of planning permission or exempted development status).

Do the exemptions apply to apartments?

Some of the exemptions listed elsewhere (building extensions, building front porches, chimneys and boilers and TV aerials) do not apply in the case of flats or apartments and the provision of car parking is only exempt when to the rear.

Where can I get more information on exemptions?

The full list of exempted developments is set out in the Planning Acts and Regulations (details below). The planning authority can advise on whether they consider planning permission is necessary, or not, in a particular case. If you disagree with the planning authority on whether planning permission is needed, you can obtain a formal ruling by making a "reference" to An Bord Pleanala on payment of the appropriate fee. Further information is available directly from the Board at Floor 3, Block 7, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1, Telephone (01) 8728011.

What happens if exemption limits are exceeded?

The limits must be observed and the planning authority has powers to stop the development if they are breached. If, due to an oversight an error is made, you should apply to the planning authority for permission to retain the work done. This is generally khown as "retention" permission. It does not automatically follow that this will be granted.

The fee for a retention application is 50% more than the normal fee and you may have to take down, alter or rectify work done, which can be costly. Prosecution for breaches of planning law can result in heavy fines or imprisonment.

You may also find it difficult to sell property which does not comply with planning requirements.

If buying property check that the building itself and any extensions or alterations comply with planning

requirements or you, as the new owner, may be liable to enforcement action.

Should I consult the planning authority before carrying out exempted development?

If you are satisfied that your development is exempted it is not necessary to check with the planning authority about planning permission before starting work. However, if you have any doubts or queries on any planning aspect you can contact the planning authority. See also below (“Do Building Regulations Apply?”) in relation to Building Regulations.

Should I consult any other bodies?

You should contact your local ESB office if your proposed works are near existing electricity lines, if there is a question of clearance heights under power lines or if the construction work will bring anyone within reach of the electricity supply to your house. In fact, you must do so where any overhead lines come within 25 yards of the construction works.

Do building regulations apply?

Your development must be in accordance with the building regulations. These regulations set out the basic design and construction requirements and apply to all new buildings, extensions, alterations and certain changes of use of existing buildings. Details of the building regulations and of the associated procedures are available in the leaflet PL. 11 A Guide to the Building Regulations. Further information may be obtained from your local authority. You may also need other types of approval e.g. making a new connection to a sewer. Contact your local authority in such cases.

Should I notify my neighbours beforehand?

This is not a legal requirement for exempted development. However, it is in your interest to let neighbours know about work you intend to carry out to your property. They are likely to be as concerned about work which might affect them as you would be if the roles were reversed. You may be able to meet some of your neighbour's worries by modifying your proposals. Even if you decide not to change, it is usually better to have told your neighbours before the building work starts.

If you or your contractor need to go on to a neighbour's property, you should obtain his or her consent before doing so.

Alterations or additions to your house may make it more vulnerable to burglary. Your local Garda Station can provide helpful advice on ways of reducing risk.

The law governing the planning system is set out in the Local Government (Planning and Development) Acts, 1963 to 1993 and Local Government (Planning and Development) Regulations, 1994 and 1995. These may be purchased from the Government Publications Sales Office, Sun Alliance House, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2, Telephone (01) 661 3111.

Note: The information on Exempted Development on this page is extracted and modified from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s leaflet PL 5 – Doing Work around the House—The Planning Issues.  This leaflet is based on the Planning and Development Acts 2000 and 2001 and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2002.  Information on Exempted Development is primarily set out in Section II.

Planning Clinics

Planning Clinics are held at the following Mayo County Council Offices every Wednesday between 09:30 to 12:30  (unless otherwise stated in the clinic update below)


Arran Place


Kilmaine Road


Church Road


Aras an Chontae


Kilcolman Road


Ballinrobe Road



No prior appointment is necessary to avail of this service.

Clinic Update: No Clinics in Swinford

Please check with the planning office to see if clinincs are running as normal over the summer period



Forward Planning Updates




At its April 2019 meeting, the Northern & Western Regional Assembly resolved to Materially Amend the Draft Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy (published in November 2018).   

These amendments are now available to view on , together with the accompanying SEA & AA documentation.

 It is open to any individual or party to make a written submission on the Material Amendments to the Draft. They can do so between 4th Aug – 11th Oct. 2019 either via the email to  or by sending their submission to the following address:

 RSES Material Alteration Submissions, Northern & Western Regional Assembly, The Square, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. All submissions will be considered prior to the adoption of the RSES, anticipated to be finalized before the end of 2019. 



In accordance with the provisions of Section 169 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 – 2019, the documents below are required to be kept  on public display for a period of at least 6 weeks from Wednesday 29th May 2019.

Written submissions/observations should be clearly marked,

“Ireland West Airport Knock SDZ” and sent to the Forward Planning Section, Mayo County Council, Aras an Chontae, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. F23 WF90, or they can be emailed to 

Please Note the Submission/Observation period for the IWAKSDZ is now closed.

Mayo County Development Plan Review Process is paused until after the Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy (RSES) is published.

The RSES is due to be published in early 2019, please check back then for further updates on the preparation of the County Development Plan.


Tools & Resources

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