The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2018 amend Article 10 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2017 to provide an exemption for the change of use, and any related works, of certain vacant commercial premises to residential use without the need to obtain planning permission. The main objectives of this exemption are to facilitate the provision of increased and much needed housing supply, to maximise the use of vacant underutilised spaces (including over ground-floor premises) and assist in the rejuvenation of inner-core urban areas.
Neither the granting of planning permission nor the provision of an exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission removes the requirement to comply with any other code, particularly the Building Regulations, a core objective of which is to provide for the safety and welfare of people in and about buildings. It is important to note in the context of the new planning exemption that compliance with the Building Regulations 1997 to 2017 must still be achieved and the statutory building control procedures will still apply.
Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations, including Part B (Fire Safety), rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. In particular, the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 require greater accountability in relation to compliance with the Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction by registered construction professionals and builders, lodgement of necessary compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates.