Bell Associates - Design & Building Consultants, Coastguard Road, Rush, Co. Dublin.                                               01-8430267 | 087-2371984 |

Bell Associates - Design & Building Consultants, Coastguard Road, Rush, Co. Dublin.                                                        01-8430267 | 087-2371984 |

Exempted Planning Guidelines

Doe document PL5
(To download this information as a pdf file please click here)

This is intended as a practical guide. It is not a
definitive legal interpretation of planning law. For more
information you should consult your planning authority.

1. When do I need planning permission?
Generally, you need planning permission for any
development of land or property unless it is specifically
exempted from this need. The term development includes
the carrying out of works (building, demolition, alteration)
on land or buildings, and the making of a material (i.e.
significant) change of use of land or buildings.

2. What is exempted development?
Exempted development is development for which planning
permission is not required. Categories of exempted
development are set out in planning law.
Relevant exemptions in relation to domestic developments
are outlined in this leaflet. There are usually certain
thresholds relating to, for example, size or height. Where
these thresholds are exceeded, the exemptions no longer
apply. The purpose of exemption is to avoid controls on
developments of a minor nature, such as small extensions
to houses.

3. Can a change of use be exempted development?
Yes. Where a change of use is not “material”, planning
permission is not required. (See Q3 PL.7)

4. What is a ‘material change of use’?
This depends on the circumstances of each situation.
Generally, any change of use of a substantial nature which
has an impact or potential impact on neighbours or the
local community will need planning permission.
The planning authority can give advice on whether it
considers any particular change of use is significant enough
to be “material” for planning purposes.
See Question 19 below for details of how to resolve a
question whether a development is or is not exempted.

5. Can I build an extension?
Small scale domestic extensions, including conservatories,
do not require planning permission if the extension is to
the rear of the house and comply with the following:
• the original floor area of the house is not increased by
more than 40 square metres. It is important to note that
where the house has been extended before, the floor
area of the extension you are now proposing and the
floor area of any previous extension, including those for
which you got planning permission, cannot exceed 40
square metres;
• for terraced or semi-detached houses, the floor area of
any extension above ground level does not exceed 12
square metres, this includes any previous extensions
carried out;
• any extension above ground floor level is at least 2m
from any boundary;
• any extension does not exceed the height of the house;
• any extension does not reduce the area of private open
space, reserved for the occupants of the house, to less
than 25 square metres.
There are also rules about the height allowed in such an
extension. These are that:
• if the rear wall of the house does not include a gable, the
height of the walls of the extension must not exceed the
height of the rear wall of the house;
• if the rear wall of the existing house has a gable, the walls
of the extension (excluding any gable being built as part
of the extension) shall not be higher than the side walls
of the house;
• in the case of a flat roofed extension, the height of the
highest part of the roof may not exceed the height of the
eaves or parapet. In any other case, no part of the new
roof may exceed the highest part of the roof of the
• a gable is the upper part of a wall (normally triangular),
between the sloping ends of a pitched roof.
There are also rules about the required distances between
windows in extensions, the facing boundary of the
adjoining property and the use of the roof of the
extension. These are;
• any windows proposed at ground floor level as part of
an extension should not be less than 1 metre from the
boundary they face;
• any windows proposed at above ground level should be
not less than 11 metres from the boundary they face;
• the roof of any such extension should not be used as a
balcony or roof garden.

6. Can I convert my garage to domestic use?
The conversion for use as part of a dwelling house (e.g. as
a living room or bedroom) of a garage, store, shed etc.
attached to the rear or side of a house is normally
exempted development, subject to the 40 square metre
limit and conditions as set out in Question 5 above.
Note: You should contact your planning authority if
you are unsure of any of the above conditions in
relation to any proposed extension.

7. Can I build a garage?
You can build a garage, carport, shed, greenhouse, kennel
for domestic pets etc., as long as it does not extend out in
front of the building line of the house and does not exceed 4
metres in height, (if it has a tiled or slated pitched roof), or 3
metres (if it has any other roof type). The floor area
limitation for exempted development is 25 square metres.
The structure may not be lived in, used for commercial
purposes or for keeping pigs, poultry, pigeons, ponies or
horses. Garages, sheds etc. to the side of the house must
match the finish of the house. You cannot reduce the open
private space, reserved exclusively for the use of the
occupants of the house, at the side or rear of the house
below 25 square metres.

8. Can I build a front porch?
You can build a porch without planning permission, as long
as it does not exceed 2 square metres in area and is more
than 2 metres from any public road or footpath. Where
the porch has a tiled or slated pitched roof, it must not
exceed 4 metres in height, or 3 metres for any other roof
type. A front porch within these limits is the only type of
development allowed to extend beyond the front wall of
the building (the building line) and still remain exempted.

9. Can I erect walls, fences and gates?
Capped walls made of brick, stone or block with a
decorative finish, railings and wooden fences, but not a
metal palisade or security fences, can be erected as long as
they do not exceed 1.2 metres in height in front of your
house or 2 metres at the side or rear. If the wall is made of
plain blocks or mass concrete it must be rendered or
plastered. Gates and gateways may be built or replaced
providing they do not exceed 2 metres in height. You will
need planning permission if you wish to make a new or
wider access to the public road.

10. Can I build a chimney and a boiler house?
A boiler house or a chimney for a central heating system,
or an oil storage tank (up to 3,500 litres capacity), is
exempted development.

11. Can I build paths, ponds and patios?
Car parking spaces, hard surfacing, garden paths, garden
ponds and patios etc. are exempt once they are not more
than 1 metre above or below existing ground level. There
are no other limitations to the rear of the house but no
more than 2 car parking spaces to the side or front of the
house are exempt.

12. Can I put up a television aerial?
A radio or TV aerial on your roof is exempt once it does
not exceed 6 metres in height above the roof. A satellite
dish up to 1 metre across and below the top of the roof is
exempted development only to the rear or side of the
house. Only one dish may be erected on a house. A dish
to the front needs permission.

13. Can I carry out internal alteration, external repairs
and maintenance?
You can carry out any internal alteration you wish as long
as you do not alter the domestic use of the house.
External works of repair, maintenance and improvement
such as painting or replastering do not need planning
permission so long as they do not materially affect the
external appearance, thus rendering the appearance
inconsistent with neighbouring buildings. You may need
approval for certain external alteration e.g. a new
connection to a sewer.
This exemption does not apply to protected structures,
nor to the subdivision of a house into flats or granny flats.
Planning permission must be obtained for such works.

14. Can I demolish an old building?
You can demolish without permission a building other
• a habitable house, or;
• a protected structure or a proposed protected
• a building in a terrace, or one which is attached to
another building in separate ownership.
However, it does not automatically follow that you will
get permission to build a replacement.
A habitable house is a house which is:
• used as a dwelling;
• is not in use, but when last used it was a dwelling and is
not derelict;
• is provided for use as a dwelling but has not been
• it also includes a building where the last permitted use
was as a house, even if it has been in unauthorised use
since then.

15. Can I store caravans and boats?
One caravan, one campervan or one boat may be stored
in your garden for up to 9 months of the year as long as it
is not lived in or used for business purposes.

16. Can I put up advertisements?
You do not need permission for domestic advertisements
up to 0.3 square metres in area, such as your house name
or number and “Beware of Dog” type signs. If selling or
letting your house the size increases to 0.6 metres but
only one advertisement is allowed and it may not be left
up any longer than 7 days after the sale or letting.

17. Are there any limitations to exempted development?
All forms of development which are normally exempted
lose this status and require planning permission if they:
• contravene a condition of a planning permission;
• endanger public safety by causing a traffic hazard or
obstructing the view of road users;
• build forward of the building line (except in the case of
small porches);
• involve a new or wider access to a public road;
• affect a building, feature, site, character of landscape,
view of special amenity value or special interest, etc.,
(check your local development plan);
• obstruct a public right of way;
• are not wholly related to the use of the house for
domestic purposes;
• involve development within a special amenity area;
• involve development to a protected structure;
• include any works to, or changes to, an unauthorised
structure, or one where there is an unauthorised use.
(“Unauthorised” means without the benefit of planning
permission or exempted development status).

18. Do the exemptions apply to apartments?
The exemptions listed above at 5, 7,8, 10, 11, 12 and 15
do not apply in the case of flats or apartments and the
provision of car parking is only exempt when to the rear.

19. Where can I get more information on exemptions?
The full list of exempted developments is set out in the
Planning Acts and Regulations (details at the end of this
leaflet). The planning authority can advise on whether
they consider planning permission is necessary, or not, in
a particular case. If you disagree with the planning
authority on whether planning permission is needed, you
can obtain a formal ruling by referring the decision to
An Bord Pleanála on payment of the appropriate fee.
Further information is available directly from the Board
at 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, Telephone (01)

20. What happens if exemption limits are exceeded?
The limits must be observed and the planning authority
has powers to stop the development if they are breached.
If, due to an oversight an error is made, you should apply
to the planning authority for permission to retain the
work done. This is generally known as “retention”
permission. It does not automatically follow that this will
be granted. This fee for a retention application is 3 times
more than the standard fee and you may have to take
down, alter or rectify work done, which can be costly.
Prosecution for breaches of planning law can result in
heavy fines or imprisonment. You may also find it difficult
to sell property which does not comply with planning
requirements. If buying property check that the building
itself and any extensions or alterations comply with
planning requirements or you, as the new owner, may be
liable to enforcement action.

21. Should I consult the planning authority before
carrying out exempted development?
If you have any doubts or queries on any planning aspect
you can contact the planning authority.
See also Question 23 in relation to Building Regulations.

22. Should I consult any other bodies?
You should contact your local E.S.B. office (see PL. 6
Paragraph13) if your proposed works are near existing
electricity lines, if there is a question of clearance heights
under power lines or if the construction work will bring
anyone within reach of the electricity supply to your
house. In fact, you must do so where any overhead lines
come within 6 metres of the construction works.

23. Do Building Regulations Apply?
Your development must be in accordance with the
building regulations. These regulations set out the basic
design and construction requirements and apply to all
new buildings, extensions, alterations and certain changes
of use of existing buildings. Details of the building
regulations and of the associated procedures are available
in PL.11 - A Guide to the Building Regulations. Further
information may be obtained from your local authority.
You may also need other types of approval e.g. making a
new connection to a sewer. Contact your local authority
in such cases.

24. Should I notify my neighbours beforehand?
This is not a legal requirement for exempted development.
However, it is in your interest to let neighbours know
about work you intend to carry out to your property.
They are likely to be as concerned about work which
might affect them as you would be if the roles were
reversed. You may be able to meet some of your
neighbour’s worries by modifying your proposals. Even if
you decide not to change, it is usually better to have told
your neighbours before the building work starts.
If you or your contractor need to go on to a neighbour’s
property, you should obtain his or her consent before
doing so.
Alterations or additions to your house may make it more
vulnerable to burglary. Your local Garda Station can
provide helpful advice on ways of reducing risk.

The law governing the planning system is set out in the
Planning and Development Acts 2000 and 2001 and the
Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2002.
These may be purchased from the Government
Publications Sales Office, Sun Allia