• grant planning permission for a specific development or class of development; or
• allow the Development Applications Board (“the Board”) the discretion to grant planning permission for development which it could not approve under the provisions of the relevant development plan.
SDOs may only be made for projects deemed to be of national significance and importance which cannot be approved by the Board under the usual planning application process.
Projects which are not considered to be of national significance and importance must follow the usual planning application process even if they cannot be approved by the Board; the Act allows any decision made by the Board to be appealed to the Minister.
An SDO may only be made by the Minister, however any person can submit a request to the Minister to make an SDO, as detailed below. All SDOs are subject to the scrutiny of the Legislature via the negative resolution procedure under section 8 of the Statutory Instruments Act 1977.
The steps set out below must be followed in all cases in order to make a request to the Minister to make an SDO. This procedure is intended to ensure that an appropriate level of information is provided, proper public consultation is carried out and comprehensive technical assessments are made in order to allow the Minister to make a fully informed decision.
In order for an SDO to be considered, either an “Environmental Impact Assessment Screening” or “Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping” pre-consultation, as detailed in the Department’s Environmental Impact Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements Guidance Note, must first be submitted via the Department’s Customer Self Service (CSS) portal. A Screening should be submitted if confirmation is required as to whether an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be needed; if it is clear that an EIS will be needed a Screening should be included with the pre-consultation in order to inform the contents of the subsequent EIS, including details of the public consultation which the developer will be carrying out prior to the completion of the final EIS.
Other Government departments will typically be consulted and the Minister will be informed of the submission, however pre-consultations are not subject to public consultation and are not made available to members of the public.
A formal response will be provided by the Department and the entire pre-consultation file will be forwarded by the Department to the Minister for information.
Once the Department has provided its pre-consultation response, the applicant may proceed with a formal request for the Minister to make an SDO, which must be submitted via the Department of Planning’s CSS portal.
To make the submission, log in or create an account for the CSS portal, open the pre-consultation case, select the “Sub-Records” tab then select “Apply” alongside “Special Development Order”. Then follow the steps of the online form. Please note that only those who have been added as “Contacts” to the pre-consultation case may make the submission.
All such submissions must include all of the items listed below upon submission, in PDF format:
(a) The location and extent of the application site and the location of all neighbouring properties and roads within at least 500 feet of the site
(b) The name of the road on which the application site is located and at least one other road within the vicinity, including at least one public road
(c) The extent of the application site outlined in RED
a. The area outlined in red must encompass the entire lot(s) on which development, subdivision or an alteration to a right of way is proposed
b. If the application site comprises more than one legal lot, the extent of each lot must be represented in BLACK
(d) Additional adjacent land owned by applicant outlined in BLUE
(e) Access to the site from the nearest public road coloured YELLOW
Once a complete submission has been received, applicants are required to display site notices within the vicinity of the site in locations as agreed with the Department. The contents of the site notices must be approved by the Department and all site notices must meet the following criteria:
Applicants must submit photographs of the displayed notice(s) to email@example.com within five (5) business days of the request from the Department to display the notices together with a map illustrating the location of each notice. At least one close-distance photograph of each site notice must be included so the text on the notice is easily legible and at least one photograph of each site notice from a far distance (i.e. at least a typical road width away) must be provided so the location of the displayed notice within the context of the local area can be clearly identified.
Once appropriate photographs of the notices and map of their location have been provided, the proposal will be published in the online Official Gazette within five (5) business days. Such advertisements may be published on any business day.
Lists of applications published in the Official Gazette are also published on the Department of Planning’s website and Facebook page.
Any person may submit comments on the submission, regardless of whether they would be directly impacted by the proposal. Comments may be submitted in the form of a formal objection or as a ‘representation’. Objections and representations should be submitted within twenty-one (21) calendar days of the application being advertised in the Official Gazette; if the 21st day is a public holiday, the deadline for submitting objections or representations will be extended to the next business day.
In addition to the publicity detailed above, other Government departments and relevant stakeholders will be consulted on the submission.
Technical officers of the Department of Planning will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the proposal, taking into consideration all feedback received, and will prepare a detailed report setting out this assessment and recommendations on behalf of the Director of Planning. This report, together with all other relevant details pertaining to the request for the Minister to make an SDO, will be presented to the Board for its consideration.
The report prepared on behalf of the Director of Planning together with the minutes of the meeting of the Board and all other details of the request to make an SDO, including all representations from members of the public and responses from consultees, shall be provided to the Minister to assist in his determination as to whether to make an SDO based on the submitted details or any revisions the Minister may deem appropriate.