The Planning and Development (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2018, which came into operation on 8 February 2018, provide for an exemption from the requirement to obtain planning permission in respect of the change of use of certain vacant commercial premises, including vacant areas above ground floor premises, to residential use.
This measure is aimed at facilitating the productive re-use of qualifying vacant commercial buildings as homes, while also facilitating urban renewal and the bringing on stream of increased housing supply.
While there is no planning application required, as such works are exempted development, the Regulations contain a notification requirement whereby a person intending to avail of the exemption is required to notify the local planning authority in writing at least 2 weeks prior to the commencement of the proposed change of use and related works. Such notifications must also indicate details of the number of housing units being provided under the exemption.
Planning authorities are required to maintain records of such notifications received and to report annually to my Department in respect of the notifications received in previous calendar year. As 2018 was the first year that this exemption provision was in operation, planning authorities should now be collating the relevant information for the purpose of submitting their first annual return to my Department. My Department has recently issued a reminder notice to planning authorities in this regard.