Unauthorised Development

All development carried out requires planning permission unless it is exempted development as set out in the Planning & Development Act 2000-2010 (As Amended) and the Planning & Development Regulations 2001 (As Amended). Equally, any development carried out on foot of planning permission must comply with the planning conditions set down in the permission granted.

If a member of the public is concerned that a particular development may be unauthorised or would appear to deviate in some way from the grant of permission, a F11 - Enforcement Complaint Form (174 Kb) should be completed and sent to the Enforcement Section of the Planning Department. 

Enforcement Action

On receipt of a complaint, an Enforcement Officer carries out an inspection at the location of the alleged unauthorised development and a course of action is decided upon. Every effort is made by the Planning Department to encourage compliance with Planning Legislation without having to resort to enforcement action. However, if compliance is not undertaken and the unauthorised development is continued, enforcement action is put into effect.

There are a number of steps that are followed:

  • After an initial inspection, if it is deemed necessary, a Warning Letter is issued to the individual/s in question. The Warning Letter allows the developer time to respond to the alleged unauthorised development.
  • Having carried out the necessary investigation and considering any submissions received, the Planning Authority may decide to issue an Enforcement Notice. 
  • If the development is deemed to be unauthorised and is not removed/ remedied after the decision has been made to issue the Enforcement Notice, the Planning Authority can serve an Enforcement Notice.
  • Should an Enforcement Notice be served, such a notice will not only require the developer to remove the unauthorised development but also to refund the costs of City Council staff time and resources expended on the enforcement file. 
  • Any outstanding works which are not carried out or costs unpaid will result in non-compliance with the Enforcement Notice. 
  • The Planning Authority can take summary proceedings for non-compliance with an Enforcement Notice and if found guilty, could result in a criminal prosecution and a fine and/or a prison sentence. 

Statutory Time Limits for Taking Enforcement Action

Under the Planning & Development Act 2000-2010 (As Amended), if the development commenced on or after the 11th March, 2002, the time limit is 7 years. Action must be taken within five years if the unauthorised development/use commenced prior to that date.

Retention Permission for Unauthorised Development

The Planning & Development Act 2001-2010 (As Amended) allows for the lodgment of planning applications to retain development that has already been constructed. While such a course of action is not viewed favourably, it is acknowledged that genuine mistakes do sometimes occur and that planning legislation can inadvertently be breached. It should be noted that retention applications are not given special consideration based on the fact that development has already been carried out.

If retention of an unauthorised development is refused, the unauthorised development must be removed and/or the unauthorised use ceased.
Fees associated with retention applications are treble the amount of standard applications per the provision of the planning regulations. 

Making a Complaint

If you wish to make a complaint regarding possible unauthorised development you must complete a F11 - Enforcement Complaint Form (174 Kb). The following should be noted:

  • Anonymous Complaint Forms will not be accepted.
  • All questions on the form must be answered in full to enable the Planning Authority to decide whether the complaint has substance and foundation.
  • A Warning Letter will be issued to the person(s) named by you on the Enforcement Complaint Form based on the information given in the form. Therefore it is important that the information given is accurate and detailed.
  • The planning reference number, Site Location Map and photographs should be included where possible. 
  • Should legal proceedings be instituted, the person making the complaint may be required to give evidence in court as to the date of commencement of the unauthorised development. 
  • The Council will endeavour to maintain as confidential any complaints made to it in confidence and in good faith.  However, this information is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997-2003 and accordingly may be subject to disclosure. 
  • The information given must be clear, signed and the name and address of the person making the complaint given, otherwise the complaint may not be investigated by Limerick City Council. 
  • Civil matters will not be adjudicated by the Planning Authority and therefore issues such as encroachment, private rights of way, trespass, private nuisance and civil boundary disputes will not be investigated.
  • Prior to making a written complaint, it should be ensured that the matter is one within the scope of planning control.  Certain matters, such as complaints relating to roads (parking), water, drainage, Local Authority housing, dangerous structures, environment (litter, noise levels) may be within the remit of other Council Directorates and should be referred directly to same.

Defamation Notice

Participants making submissions to the Planning Department on planning applications should be aware that comments involving allegations of any kind against a named or otherwise identifiable person or organisation may be viewed as defamatory by the subject of the comments. Participants may be sued directly for any defamatory allegations in a submission and should avoid making such allegations. Submissions made to the Department may be made available for public inspection. Please note that, in the event of any potentially defamatory allegation giving rise to legal action against it, the Department may seek indemnity from the person making the allegation. It should be understood that the Department is only concerned with issues relevant to the planning application and that personalised comments are generally not relevant to its deliberations.

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Last update:22/06/2011