Peter Burke, the Fine Gael Junior Minister at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning has signed new regulations which will mean that school extensions and additional buildings will be exempt from applying for planning permission, subject to conditions.
“This is a positive move and something I was glad to be able to deliver. In light of COVID 19 in particular, it is imperative that school management will be permitted to provide a safe environment for pupils and teachers and that they are not delayed in these endeavours when health and safety of our pupils are at risk.
“Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that the Minister may make regulations to provide for classes of development to be exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission. As such, I have provided an exemption to schools, which I deem proportionate and reasonable in line with the legislation.
“My amendments will enable schools to more easily comply with Covid-related public health and social distancing requirements from September next onwards thereby creating safer environments for both pupils and teachers, while also being consistent with the general principle of proper planning and sustainable development”.
“Over the years, I have been liaising with school management across Longford Westmeath and I know lengthy planning permission processes can delay the often urgent need for more space and specialised facilities in our schools. These changes to planning law are common sense amendments, and I am hopeful that they will yield positive results and make processes less protracted for staff and Boards of Managements across the country”.