Exempted Development

What is Exempted Development?

Exempted Development is development for which planning permission is not required. The categories of Exempted Development are set out in the Planning & Development Act 2000-2010 (As Amended) and the Planning & Development Regulations 2001 (As Amended). Most of the exemptions contain certain conditions and limitations which must be met. If the terms of conditions and limitations cannot be complied with, the development cannot be considered an Exempted Development.

The purpose of Exempted Development is to avoid controls on developments of a minor nature, such as a small extension to a house.  You can seek a formal declaration from Limerick City Council to establish if there is a requirement for planning permission for a specific proposal, (under Section 5 of the Planning & Development Act, 2000-2010 (As Amended). You must complete a F7 - Declaration on Development & Exempted Development Application Form (169 Kb) and forward it along with a Site Location Map, a fee of €80.00, and as much detail as possible outlining your proposal (drawings and photos etc). A decision will generally be issued in four weeks. If the Planning Authority fails to issue a declaration in 4 weeks or the Applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Planning Authority, the Applicant may refer the matter to An Bord Pleanála.

FAQ’s Regarding Exempted Development
Can I build an extension?
This depends on the circumstances of each situation. Generally, any change of use of a substantial nature, which has an impact or potential impact on neighbours or the local community, will need planning permission.   

Small scale domestic extensions, including conservatories, do not require planning permission if the extension is to the rear of the house and comply with the following stipulations:

  • The original floor area of the house is not increased by more than 40 square metres. It is important to note that where the house has been extended before, the floor area of the extension you are now proposing and the floor area of any previous extension, including those for which you got planning permission, cannot exceed 40 square metres;
  • For terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 12 square metres, this includes any previous extensions carried out;
  • For detached houses, the floor area of any extension above ground level does not exceed 20 square metres, this includes any previous extensions carried out;
  • Any extension above ground floor level is at least 2 metres from any party boundary;
  • Any extension does not exceed the height of the house;
  • Any extension does not reduce the area of private open space, reserved for the occupants of the house, to less than 25 square metres.
  • No part of the extension shall be constructed on a party wall/boundary without written permission from the adjoining landowners. 

There are also rules about the required distances between windows in extensions and the facing boundary of the adjoining property. These are:

  • Any windows proposed at ground floor level as part of an extension should not be less than 1 metre from the boundary they face;
  • Any windows proposed at above ground level should be not less than 11 metres from the boundary they face.
What height can I build my extension without permission?
Planning permission does not apply:
  • If the rear wall of the house does not include a gable, the height of the walls of the extension must not exceed the height of the rear wall of the house;
  • If the rear wall of the existing house has a gable, the walls of the extension (excluding any gable being built as part of the extension) shall not be higher than the side walls of the house;
  • In the case of a flat roofed extension, the height of the highest part of the roof may not exceed the height of the eaves or parapet. In any other case, no part of the new roof may exceed the highest part of the roof of the house. 
Can I build a garage/shed?

You can build or place a greenhouse, garage, shed, store or other similar structure, within the curtilage of your house subject to the following conditions:

  • No such structure shall be constructed, erected or placed forward of the front wall of a house.
  • The total area of such structures constructed, erected or placed within the curtilage of a house shall not, taken together with any other such structures previously constructed, erected or placed within the said curtilage, exceed 25 square metres. 
  • The construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of a house of any such structure shall not reduce the amount of private open space reserved exclusively for the use of the occupants of the house to the rear or to the side of the house to less than 25 square metres.
  • The external finishes of any garage or other structure constructed, erected or placed to the side of a house, and the roof covering where any such structure has a tiled or slated roof, shall conform with those of a house.
  • The height of any such structure shall not exceed, in the case of a building with a tiled or slated pitched roof, 4 metres, or, in any other case 3 metres.
  • The structure shall not be used for human habitation or for the keeping of pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or horses, or for any other purpose other than a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the house as such.
Do I need planning permission to convert my garage (which is attached) to my house into living/sleeping area for my family?

Provided the garage is attached to the side or rear of the house, and the conversion is for use as part of the house (and not a granny flat or self contained accommodation), you do not require planning permission.  However, all the requirements which apply to a new extension also apply here.  

Can I build a front porch?
A front porch does not require planning permission if the following applies: 
  • Any such structure shall be situated not less than 2 metres from any road.
  • The floor area of any such structure shall not exceed 2 square metres.
  • The height of any such structure shall not exceed, in the case of a structure with a tiled or slated pitched roof, 4 metres or in any other case, 3 metres. 
Can I erect walls, fences and gates without planning permission?

Planning permission will not be required if the following applies: 

  • The height of any such structure shall not exceed 1.2 metres in height in front of your house or 2 metres at the side or rear.
  • Every wall other than a dry or natural stone wall bounding any garden or other space shall be capped and the face of any wall of concrete block or concrete (other than blocks with decorative finish) which will be visible from any road, path or public area, including public open space, shall be rendered or plastered.
  • No such structure shall be a metal palisade or other security fence.

*You will need planning permission if you wish to make a new or wider access to the public road.

Do I need planning permission for an attic conversion?
Planning permission for such is dependant on the use proposed:

(a) If the attic conversion is used solely as a non-habitable storage area then planning permission is not required.
(b) If the attic conversion proposed is a change of use from an attic to a habitable use i.e. a bedroom/study, planning permission is required and the proposed development has to qualify as habitable accommodation inline with the Building Regulations. 
(c) If the proposed development involves dormer windows, permission is needed.  Roof lights to the side/front elevation also require planning permission.  However, roof lights proposed to the rear are exempt.  

Can I build a chimney and a boiler house?
Subject to site location and planning history a boiler house or a chimney for a central heating system, or an oil storage tank are exempted development. Please note, the capacity of oil tanks shall not exceed 3,500 litres.
Can I build paths, ponds and patios?
Hard surfacing, garden paths, garden ponds and patios are exempt as long as they are not more than one metre above or below existing ground level.
Can I put up a television aerial?
You can erect a TV aerial on the roof provided it is not more than 6 metres above the roof of the house.
Can I erect a Satellite Dish without permission?
You can erect one satellite dish on or within the curtilage of a house, but it must not be on the front wall of the house or forward of the house, nor should it be on the front roof slope of the house or higher than the highest part of the roof of the house.  The height of any satellite dish should not exceed 1 metre. A dish to the front needs permission.
Can I demolish an old building?
Planning Permission must be sought to demolish a habitable house, or a building which forms part of a terrace of buildings or a building which abuts on another building in separate ownership before any demolition works take place.  The location of the structure(s)/building(s) to be demolished shall be indicated on the Site Layout Map in distinctive colour.
Can I store caravans and boats?
You can store a caravan, camper van or boat within the garden of a house for up to 9 months in any year.  They must not be used as a dwelling nor can they be used for the storage, display, advertisement or sale of goods.
Can I build a balcony/roof garden to an extension without permission?
No, planning permission is required.
Can I provide car parking in my garden without permission?
Yes, planning permission is not required for the provision of parking to the front or side for not more than 2 cars although the removal of green spaces is not encouraged.
*Please note: the widening of vehicular entrances is not exempt.
Can I convert 2 or more dwellings to use as a single dwelling without permission?
Yes, but only if the structure was previously used as a single dwelling. e.g. a house which was used as a single dwelling when built, later converted to flats can convert back to single dwelling use under this exemption.
Does a For Sale sign on a dwelling need permission?
A For Sale sign does not need permission providing the maximum area of sign used is 0.6 square metre in the case of a house/letting and maximum area for any other structure/land is 1.2 square metre.  Not more than one sign can be used and the sign must be removed no later than 7 days after sale or letting.
Can I paint my house without permission?
Yes, except for a mural and providing the house is not a protected structure.
Can I erect a Wind Turbine, Solar Panel, Heat Pump within the curtilage of my house?
Erecting a wind turbine, solar panel or heat pump within the curtilage of a house is exempted development but subject to limitations. Refer to Planning Regulations 2001 (As Amended).
Do I need planning permission to use my house as a B&B or hostel?
You do not need planning permission to use a house as a B&B or hostel provided not more than 4 bedrooms are used for guest accommodation and provided that there are not more than 4 persons per room.
Do I need planning permission to mind children in my house?
Where you are minding no more than 6 children (including your own) for profit or gain, and the caring for the children are in carers own home, planning permission is not required.
Can I erect a roadside shrine without permission?
Yes, subject to maximum area of 2 square metres, max height is 2 metres above the centre of the road opposite, and it is not illuminated.
If my property is a Protected Structure, do these exemptions apply?
No. Most works to a Protected Structure are not exempted. A declaration of what is/is not exempted is needed to clarify issues as indicated under Section 57 of the Planning & Development Act 2000 (As Amended).
Can I carry out internal alterations, external repairs and maintenance?
You can carry out any internal alteration you wish as long as you do not alter the use of the house. External works of repair, maintenance and improvement such as painting or re-plastering do not need planning permission so long as they do not materially affect the external appearance, thus rendering the appearance inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. You may need approval for certain external alteration e.g. a new connection to a sewer. 
This exemption does not apply to protected structures, nor to the subdivision of a house into flats or a granny flat. Planning permission must be obtained for such works.
Does the City Council need permission to do its own work?
No, not in the normal way, but, is subject to the consultation procedures contained in the Planning & Development Act 2000-2010 (As Amended) and Planning & Development Regulations 2001 (As Amended).

For a printable and quick guide to exempted development, please consult PG1 - Exempted Development: Doing Works Around the House, the Planning Issues (93 Kb)

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Last update:17/08/2011