Planning Portal

PPS 1: General Principles
Development Control: Prematurity

Paragraphs 46-48 of this document have been superseded by a Joint Ministerial Statement on the importance of emerging Development Plans in deciding planning applications.
46. Where a plan is under preparation or review it may be justifiable, in some circumstances, to refuse planning permission on the grounds of prematurity. This may be appropriate in respect of development proposals which are individually so substantial, or whose cumulative effect would be so significant, that to grant permission would prejudice the outcome of the plan process by predetermining decisions about the scale, location or phasing of new development which ought properly to be taken in the development plan context. A proposal for development that has an impact on only a small area would rarely come into this category; but a refusal might be justifiable where a proposal would have a significant impact on an important settlement, or a substantial area, with an identifiable character. Where there is a phasing policy in the development plan, it may be necessary to refuse planning permission on grounds of prematurity if the policy is to have effect. 
47. Other than in the circumstances described in paragraph 46, refusal of planning permission on grounds of prematurity will not usually be justified. Planning applications will continue to be considered in the light of current policies. However, account will also be taken of policies in emerging development plans that are going through the statutory procedures towards adoption. The weight to be attached to such policies depends upon the stage of plan preparation or review, increasing as successive stages are reached. For example:
  • where a plan is at the preliminary proposals stage, with no early prospect of reaching draft plan stage, then refusal on prematurity grounds would seldom be justified because of the lengthy delay which this would impose in determining the future use of the land in question;
  • where a plan is at the draft stage but no objections have been lodged to relevant policies, then considerable weight may be attached to those policies because of the strong possibility that they will be adopted and replace those in the existing plan. The converse may apply if there have been objections to relevant policies. However, much will depend on the nature of those objections and also whether there are representations in support of particular policies;
48. Where planning permission is refused on grounds of prematurity the Department will give clear reasons as to how the grant of permission for the development concerned would prejudice the outcome of the development plan process.
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