Planning Portal

Smoking Ban: Questions and Answers

The Smoking Ban came into force on 30th April 2007.
The following guidance sets out the planning implications for development undertaken or advertisements and signage displayed in association with the smoking ban.

When will planning permission be required?

Generally speaking, planning permission is required for all permanent external structures or a change of use of an outdoor area, even if no building work is being undertaken.
Planning permission will therefore be required for:
  • the erection of an external smoking shelter, whether attached to a building or free standing within the curtilage of the premises
  • a change of use of an outdoor area, eg. the conversion of a yard or part of a carpark to a beer garden. Planning permission may be required for change of use of an outdoor area that has been used occasionally but not on a full-time basis (applicants are advised to contact their Local Area Planning Office for advice). If a smoking shelter is proposed within an outdoor area, a planning application may be submitted for both the change of use and erection of the shelter under the same application.
    Where tables and chairs have been placed on the pavement or other public concourse in association with an adjacent business, a number of factors may determine whether or not a material change of use has taken place including the scale of the development and the degree of permanency.
  • the erection of canopies or awnings, (if the canopy or awning is to carry a sponsors name or advertisement, Advertisement Consent may also be required – see What other types of consent may be required?)
  • a ‘Jumbrella’ which has a fixed base may require planning permission depending on its size and the permanency of the attachment to the ground. Applicants are advised to contact their Local Area Planning Office to discuss proposals in more detail. If it s proposed to erect a jumbrella within the curtilage of a listed building, Listed Building Consent may also be required. (see What other types of consent may be required?)

What other types of consent may be required?

Listed Building Consent

Listed Building Consent is required before carrying out any work for demolition, alteration or extension of a listed building (including internal works or objects attached to the structure), which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest. If external works are proposed to a Listed Building, a planning application may also be required.
The fee for Listed Building Consent is £58 and the relevant application form is Form LB1.
Applicants may apply in writing to the Department for a written determination to confirm whether or not Listed Building Consent it required. Details of the proposed works should be provided along with the relevant fee (£52).  If it is determined that Listed Building Consent is required, the fee paid will be deducted from the subsequent application fee.
N.B. It is offence to carry out any work to a Listed Building without consent where required.

Conservation Area Consent

Conservation Area Consent is required for proposals involving demolition (whether in whole or in part) of an unlisted building within a Conservation Area.
The fee for Conservation Area Consent is £58 and the relevant application form is Form PCAC 1.

Advertisement Consent

Most outdoor advertisements require Advertisement Consent from the Department before they can be displayed.
An application for Advertisement Consent will be required if a canopy or awning is to carry a sponsors name or advertisement.
The fee for Advertisement Consent is £173 and the relevant application form is Form A1.
N.B It is an offence to display an advertisement without consent where required.

Display of no smoking signs

Smoke Free premises are required to display a no-smoking sign that meets minimum requirements (A5 size – 148mm x 210mm) at each public interest to the premises, to be displayed in a position that is prominently visible to persons entering the premises.
Advertisement Consent will not be required for the display of outdoor no smoking signs to comply with the smoking ban, provided –
  • the sign does not exceed 0.3 sq m
  • there is no illumination
  • no character or symbol on the advertisement is more than 0.3m in height
  • no part of the advertisement is more than 5 metres above ground level.
(Class 2 (1) of Part 1 of Schedule 3 to the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (NI) 1992.)

How will my application be processed?

Applications for Planning Permission, Listed Building Consent, Conservation Area Consent and Advertisement Consent should be made to the Local Area Planning Office. Applications forms and guidance notes are available on the Planning NI website (link to application forms).  
Before a decision can be made on a proposal the following needs to take place:
  • advertisement of the application; (in local press)
  • neighbour notification
  • consideration of any third party representations
  • consultation with statutory bodies and consideration of responses
  • consideration of any other material considerations
  • consultation with District Council.

What issues will be considered in assessing my planning application?

If it is proposed to change the use of an outdoor area, consideration should be given to any potential impact on neighbouring properties, particularly residential properties, and if possible locate that area away from any nearby housing or public building.
Anyone considering the creation of a seating area on the public footpath should contact their Local Area Planning Office for advice. In the consideration of planning applications for a material change of use the Department will take into account the comments of DRD Roads Service as the Government Department responsible for the control and maintenance of public roads. It is important that an outdoor structure or seating area does not create an obstruction to those using the public footpath.
Each application is site specific and is treated on its own merits, subject to assessment of detailed planning and environmental criteria. In the circumstances where permission has not been sought the Department will consider each case taking account of the site specific circumstances and decide the appropriate course of action.
In the processing of planning applications, the Department will take into account the following:
  • the relevant planning policy and guidance
  • the visual amenity of the area
  • the residential amenity of neighbouring properties
  • the comments of statutory bodies, i.e. Environmental Health
  • the comments of any third parties.

How long will it take to receive a decision?

The Department will endeavour to process applications as quickly as possible. Planning applications are subject to process of consideration which includes advertisement of proposals in the press, neighbour notification and consultation with District Councils and other statutory bodies.
Applicants can help to ensure that applications will be processed without undue delay by fully completing application forms, submitting all relevant information, such as the relevant drawings required, and ensuring the correct application fee has been submitted.
The Smoke Free legislation will be enforced by District Councils Environmental Health Departments. It is recommended that applicants discuss proposals with the Environmental Health to ensure compliance with the legislation before submitting a planning application.
Applicants may also wish to discuss proposals with neighbouring properties before submitting a planning application.

When is permission / consent not required?

No smoking signs

Smoke Free premises are required to display a no-smoking sign that meets minimum requirements (A5 size – 148mm x 210mm) at each public interest to the premises, to be displayed in a position that is prominently visible to persons entering the premises.
Advertisement Consent will not be required for the display of outdoor no smoking signs to comply with the smoking ban, provided –
  • the sign does not exceed 0.32m
  • there is no illumination
  • no character or symbol on the advertisement is more than 0.3m in height
  • no part of the advertisement is more than 5 metres above ground level.
(Class 2(1) Part 1 of Schedule 3 to the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (NI) 1992.)
However, where it is proposed to attach a sign or advertisement to a Listed Building, it may be necessary to seek a determination from the Department as to whether or not Listed Building Consent is required.

Butt bins

Planning permission will not be required planning permission for “butt bins” to dispose of cigarette ends, whether wall mounted, floor mounted or free standing.
As far as possible, it should be ensured that the bin is in keeping with the colour of the building to which it is attached to or located adjacent to. It should also be ensured that any floor mounted or free-standing bins are provided within the curtilage of the premises.
However, if is proposed to attach a bin to a Listed Building, it may be necessary to seek a determination from the Department as to whether or not Listed Building Consent is required. (see What other types of consent may be required?)

Further Information

Copies of all necessary application forms and guidelines on completion of forms are available at:
Further information on the introduction of the smoking ban is available at:
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