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Your Premises, the Planning System and What You Should Know An Advice Note Provided by Thomas Street Business Association This leaflet is intended to provide building owners and businesses with simple independent information on a range of planning issues relevant to Thomas Street and its environs. The leaflet is not definitive professional advice and it is always recommended that you consult a qualified town planner or built environment professional or Dublin City Council with specific issues or problems.


Understanding the Planning Process

What’s happening down on Thomas Street..?

Cornmarket, Thomas Street and James Street form one of the oldest thoroughfares in the city with a history stretching back to the early medieval origins of Dublin. Commercial activity has been a feature of the street for centuries and it is recognised as one of Dublin’s best known market streets. Many would recognise that recent years have been challenging for the street. Thomas Street has lost its prominence as a commercial street and its attractiveness to shoppers from the wider city. Dereliction, and in some instances demolition, is an unfortunate feature on parts of the street; vacancy is high, particularly at upper floor level, and the street suffers from a range of problems that affect the public’s perception of the street including vagrancy, litter and a poor quality public realm. The aim of Thomas Street Business Association is to bring together businesses and other stakeholders on the street to address common issues and to inspire a rejuvenation of our street.

At some stage, most people are required to deal with the planning process, whether to undertake works to their homes or business premises, or to engage in development as an occupation. The planning process is intended to be open and transparent and public participation in the process is encouraged. Any member of the public can therefore make their views known on an application for development or participate in the preparation of plans or strategies for their area. The planning process also incorporates a system of checks and balances. So therefore, applicants for planning permission have the right to appeal decisions made against them to an independent appeals board, An Bord Pleanála, while the integrity of the planning process is protected by a system of planning enforcement. In addition, a range of processes run complementarily to the planning process to ensure that development is of a good standard. Building Regulations prescribe how a building should be built and the standards of materials and construction. Public health standards guide activities such as preparing food on premises, or public hygiene. The planning process is administered at local level by Planning Authorities—in Dublin this is Dublin City Council.

Learn More:

Applying for Planning Permission

What is a Protected Structure?

You need to apply for planning permission from Dublin City Council before you start any development work in the city. This includes:

A protected structure is a building that a Local Authority considers to be of special interest from an architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical point of view, and therefore worthy of preservation. The owner and/or occupier of a protected structure is legally obliged to ensure that the structure is preserved and properly maintained.


a new building or other structure, e.g. house, factory, monument, playground, etc.


an existing building or property, e.g. an extension, a new floor, etc.

 Changing the way in which a property is used, e.g. to change a shop into a restaurant. Some developments do not need planning permission. These are called 'exempt developments', and usually relate to minor works and routine maintenance. However, in the instance of buildings located within Architectural Conservation Areas or protected structures, the right to undertake exempted development is usually curtailed. An application for planning permission requires a range of documentation including maps, plans and drawings of the development, completed forms and supporting statements (where required) and the payment of a fee. You may be required to discuss the development in advance with relevant staff in the Council, such as the planning officer, a drainage engineer or the conservation officer. These pre-planning consultations can usually help you to address any problems before they arise during the assessment of your application. A decision to grant or refuse planning permission is made within 8 weeks, with a final decision following 4 weeks later. The process may be extended where the Planning Authority requires further information to determine your application. Where the decision of the Planning Authority is appealed to An Bord Pleanรกla, a decision in that regard may take up to 18 weeks or longer.

The obligation to preserve a protected structure applies to all parts of the structure, including its interior, all land around it, and any other structures on that land. The obligation also applies to all fixtures and fittings forming part of the interior of a protected structure (staircases, decorative ceilings, windows, etc) or of any structure on land around it (boundary walls, annexes, mews buildings, etc).

Do special procedures apply to protected structures under the planning system? Yes. Under the planning system, many minor works to structures, particularly interior works, do not normally require planning permission (exempted development). However, for a protected structure, such works can be carried out without planning permission only if the works would not affect the character of the structure or any element of the structure that contributes to its special interest. Depending on the nature of the structure, planning permission could, for example, be required for interior decorating such as plastering or painting. In most cases, you are a required to apply for planning permission for internal or external works to a protected structure.

Buildings on Thomas Street Designated As Protected Structures Currently, the following properties are listed as protected structures (list excludes churches):

Getting Help


Nos. 9-10, 12-13 and 14-15.

While you may seek planning permission without professional assistance, the services of a qualified planner may help you to successfully negotiate the planning process and ensure that your development best meets the requirements of national and local planning policies and objectives.

Thomas Street:

Nos. 1, 2-6, 7, 8, 10-13, 19, 22, 28, 37, 47-48, 51-52, 53, 54, 55, 60, 66-68, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82-83, 84-85, 86, 89-93, 96103, 104-108, 110-111, 112, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 135, 136.

What is the Thomas Street & Environs Architectural Conservation Area In 2009, Dublin City Council designated a wide area of The Liberties including Cornmarket and Thomas Street as far as Crane Street as an Architectural Conservation Area (ACA). An ACA is a statutory designation applied in order to protect and enhance the special character and quality of an area.

Signage: Getting It Right Signage is an important feature of your business identity. While well designed and thoughtfully placed signage can enhance the appearance of your shopfront, excessive signage or the use of poor quality materials like printed laminate can detract from the character and quality of the whole street.

What does the ACA designation aim to achieve Most people recognised that The Liberties, and particularly historic streets such as Thomas Street, Francis Street and Meath Street, are an important part of the heritage of Dublin. The architecture, streetscapes, monuments and features of this area are what makes it special. In addition to maintaining an attractive place for people to live and work, protecting and enhancing our historic areas encourages greater numbers of people to visit and enjoy this part of Dublin. An ACA does not prevent development but rather ensures that any new development in the area adds to and enhances the existing quality of the area.

How Does it Affect How I Develop My Property and Business? All property owners within an ACA must apply for planning permission for any changes to the exterior of a building that materially alters its character, whether the building is a protected structure or not. This includes, for example, replacing windows and doors, replacing a shopfront, undertaking significant facade repair, etc. Works that comprise routine maintenance of a building that is not a protected structure, for example painting an existing shopfront or repairing a gutter remain exempted development. In practical terms, the ACA policy requires property owners to retain and repair historic features of their buildings such as timber sash windows rather than replace them, say with uPVC windows. The ACA policy discourages the use of certain types of materials, for example plastic signage or large internally illuminated fascia displays on shopfronts. The ACA policy also encourages the careful placing of utilities, wiring, alarm boxes etc on the front of buildings to improve the visual appearance of the street.

The ACA policy requires that planning permission is sought for all signs (regardless of size and location) including projecting signs, erected externally within the area of the ACA. The following principles are required by the ACA for signage:

Signage should be contained within the fascia board of the shopfront with the lettering either painted on the fascia, or comprised of individual solid letters mounted on the fascia. The size of lettering used should be in proportion to the depth of the fascia board.

Advertisements and posters including those that blacken out and/or obscure extensive areas of glazing are not permitted in the window display area.

Advertisements and signs relating to uses above ground floor level should generally be provided at the entrance to the upper floors in a small plaque format.

Banner type signs and advertising sheeting covering any part of the front faรงade of a building are not acceptable.

Careful consideration should be given to the colours used on any advertising structures or signs. Substantial areas of inappropriate garish colours shall not be allowed as the background of any sign.

Undertaking Minor Works— Is There An Alternative to Planning Permission? Certain works that are considered to be ‘exempted’ do not require planning permission, particularly works that contribute to the routine maintenance of a building. You may request the Planning Authority to determine whether proposed works are exempted by means of a Section 5 Declaration—essentially written clarification from the Planning Authority. A Section 5 Declaration may be obtained upon the provision of required information to the Council and the payment of a fee (currently €80). A Declaration is made within 4 weeks. The Planning Authority may within its discretion agree to minor works or development for protected structures or buildings within Architectural Conservation Areas without the need to obtain planning permission. The planning process allows for a Declaration of Exempted Works for Protected Structures to be obtained from the Planning Authority (also known as a Section 57 Declarations). Section 57 Declarations may be obtained by writing to the Planning Authority using the relevant form. The process is free of charge. Where the Planning Authority finds that the works are not exempted development, an application for planning permission is required.

You can find more details on both of these processes as well as general information on the planning process in the city at

Planning Enforcement Planning legislation provides for a range of legal remedies to enforce the planning process. These remedies are undertaken by Planning Enforcement Officers within the Council. Where the Council is of the view that works have been undertaken without permission or that works have been undertaken contrary to the conditions of a planning permission then the Council may take enforcement action —including recourse to the Courts. As part of its commitment to improving the quality of the environment along Thomas Street, Dublin City Council has recently increased the level of planning enforcement being undertaken in the area. Thomas Street Business Association is liaising with Dublin City Council on behalf of the businesses of Thomas Street to realise an improved street environment. Ensuring that everyone manages their properties in a responsible manner is vital to this process of improvement. The Association is working towards a situation where no planning enforcement is required on the street.

Derelict Sites Any member of the public may report to the Council any property that is derelict. Action under the Derelict Sites Act 1990 can be taken in the following instances: a.

existence on land of structures that are in a ruinous, derelict or dangerous condition


neglected, unsightly or objectionable condition of land or any structures


the presence, deposit or collection on land of any litter, rubbish, debris or waste

Thomas Street Business Association has previously made representations to Dublin City Council regarding a number of properties on Thomas Street and James Street that it considers derelict and that fall under the provisions of the Derelict Sites Act.

Do You Need More Assistance with a Planning Matter? This leaflet has been prepared by independent planning consultants working to help realise a better Thomas Street. For further assistance and information on services contact:

Contact: Stephen Coyne

Contact: Richard Hamilton

Advice Leaflet  

This is one of series of advice leaflets being developed for businesses and the local community on Thomas Street in Dublin - an area regener...

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