A wide range of exemptions from planning permission are already provided for under Section 4 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, (the Act) and Schedule 2 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended, (the Regulations). Such exemptions are provided for when they are considered to be consistent with proper planning and sustainable development.
Under Class 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations, an extension to an existing house up to a limit of 40 square metres is exempted development, with additional conditions and limitations set out in the Regulations.
Class 3 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations provides for a further exemption in respect of the construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of a house of any tent, awning, shade or other object, greenhouse, garage, store, shed or other similar structure. Similarly, this exemption is also subject to conditions and limitations as set out in the Regulations, including that it should be for the sole purpose of being incidental to the enjoyment of the house.
It should be noted that the exemptions outlined are for the sole use of the home owner and not, for example, for the purpose of facilitating the establishment of a commercial enterprise. Such development would be classed as a material change of use - i.e. a change of use of a property from residential use to commercial use - and would therefore require planning permission. An application for such permission provides an opportunity for members of the public to make submissions or observations in respect of the proposed development while also providing the planning authority with the opportunity to consider a range of potential impacts, such as increased traffic, in the area that may result from any such proposed change of use.
If a person wishes to establish whether or not planning permission is required for a specific development proposal, they can seek a declaration from their local authority under Section 5 of the Act.
As outlined, the current legislation provides for the construction of certain structures in the back gardens of residences, including for the purpose of home offices. Accordingly, I do not have any plans for the making of further legislative changes or the issuing of new guidelines in this regard at this time.