Last month Minister Alan Kelly signed off on a change to our planning exemption laws which has largely gone under the radar. In essence, existing places used for guest accommodation can be used for the housing of refugees and asylum seekers, temporary or otherwise, without needing planning permission, as emergency reception and orientation centres (EROCs). The circular from the Department states:
This seems to be removing your right per the normal planning application process to object, thereby exercising your democratic right to protect your residential amenity. What say p.ie to this trampling of your rights at the behest of the 'open gates' lobby?The primary purpose of the Regulations is to insert 4 new classes of exempted development into Class 14 of Schedule 2, Part 1 of the Principal Regulations which have the effect that the changes of use specified in the new classes below are exempted from the requirement to obtain planning permission:
- Class 14(g) – change of use of a premises (defined as hotel, motel, hostel, guesthouse, holiday accommodation, convent, monastery, Defence Forces barracks or residential institution providing overnight accommodation, or part thereof from a hotel to hostel (other than a hostel where care is provided);
- Class 14(h) – change of use of various forms of premises providing residential or overnight accommodation for “protected persons” i.e. refugees and asylum seekers defined in accordance with relevant legislation for which the Minister for Justice and Law Reform is responsible. This new class of exempted development will particularly assist in the implementation of the Government’s Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRRP) as part of the Irish contribution to the EU Relocation Programme for Migrants;
Class 14(i) - change of use of various forms of premises providing overnight accommodation for use as emergency reception and orientation centres (EROCs) for refugees and asylum seekers. A network of EROCs is being established by the Department of Justice and Law Reform for the initial reception of persons arriving in Ireland under the IRPP; and
- Classs 14(j) – return of premises, the use of which changed under an exemption un class 14(h) or 14(i), to their permitted use immediately prior to that change of use. It is a condition of this class that the exemption from planning permission will apply for a period of 3 years only from the date of commencement of the change of use exempted under Class 14(h) or 14(i) or both.
The definitions of “business premises” and “excluded premises” in article 5(1) of the Principal Regulations have also been amended in support of the above changes to remove the distinction in those definitions between a hotel and a hostel.