The Development and Planning Amendment Act 2021 introduced Protected Conservation Areas (“PCAs”) into legislation, which now form section 25A of the Development and Planning Act 1974 (“the Act”).
The Minister responsible for Planning (“the Minister”) may designate an area as a PCA upon agreement with the landowner.
A PCA may designate an area for one or more of the purposes set out by section 25A(1) of the Act (see inset) and has the effect of restricting or regulating development in the affected area. Each PCA will set out its own specific restrictions or regulations, which will be determined in order to best achieve the purpose(s) of the PCA. These details will be set out in the Fifth Schedule of the Act, which is updated whenever a new PCA is made.
PCAs differ from other mechanisms under the Act to protect land and buildings in that, whilst the Minister may make or amend a PCA, a PCA can only be removed (on whole or in part) if approved by both Houses of the Legislature and communicated to the Governor. This process therefore affords a greater degree of protection to an area in the long-term.
25A (1) The Minister may, on written agreement with the owner of the land, by order designate an area as a protected conservation area for one or more of the following purposes-
(a) to safeguard and maintain plants and animals as well as geological, marine and other natural features where protection is required with human use generally limited to scientific research and educational purposes in order to protect and preserve the natural resources;
(b) to provide for the use of the area in its natural state with a minimum of commercial and mechanized activity to provide open space for use by the public for educational, social or recreational purposes;
(c) to protect and maintain natural or historic monuments or features (including forts), sites of particular historic, archaeological, or aesthetic value-
(i) to so maintain them to protect their integrity;
(ii) to so manage them to protect them from deterioration; and
(iii) to provide public enjoyment, research and educational opportunities.
(d) to protect and maintain arable land to ensure the integrity of the land for cultivation.
A PCA can only be made by the Minister, subject to the agreement of all affected landowners. Landowners may put forward a request to the Minister to make a PCA, or the Minister may request the agreement of landowners to make a PCA on their land.
Requests from the Minister or landowners to make a PCA must be made in writing, which must set out the purpose for making a PCA and a map or plan, drawn to scale, setting out the location, extent and size of the area of land which would be subject to the PCA.
Request from landowners to make a PCA must be submitted as a pre-consultation via the Department’s Customer Self Service (CSS) portal as detailed by the Department’s Pre-Consultations guidance note. Alternatively, if the proposed PCA relates to an application for planning permission which is currently under consideration, the request should be submitted by email to the technical officer assigned to the application.
All such requests will be forward to the Minister together with a recommendation from the Department of Planning as to whether the Minister should proceed with making a PCA. In making this determination, the Department and Minister will consider the suitability of the land for the intended purpose of making a PCA and whether it would be expedient to make a PCA in that particular case.
If the Minister and landowner agree to the making of a PCA, a unique reference with the prefix “PCA” will be created for the case, which will be publicly accessible. The PCA will then be drafted in the form of an insertion into the Fifth Schedule of the Act and a notice will be published in the Official Gazette setting out the location and purpose of the PCA. This notice will include the aforementioned reference number which can be inputted to the search box of the Department’s CSS portal which will afford access to the file including all relevant documentation including a map or plan of the affected land.
All PCAs are subject to the scrutiny of the Legislature via the negative resolution procedure under section 8 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1977.
Letters of objection and/or representation should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org referencing the PLAN or SUB number in the subject line.