Planning Permission vs. Exemptions in Cork

When is Planning Permission Required?

In Cork, as in the rest of Ireland, planning permission is typically required for significant construction and renovation projects.

Here are some common scenarios where you’ll need planning permission:

New Builds

If you’re constructing a new building, regardless of its size or purpose, planning permission is mandatory.

Change of Use

Converting a property from one use to another, like changing a residential property into a commercial space, typically requires planning permission.

Alterations to Facades

Making alterations to the facades of buildings, which typically involve changes to elements like windows or doors, often necessitates obtaining planning permission. This means that if you plan to make any adjustments that alter the external appearance of a structure, such as replacing or relocating windows and doors, you will likely need to go through the formal process of seeking planning permission, as mandated by Cork council regulations.

Significant Extensions

Expanding a property with substantial extensions may require obtaining planning permission, particularly when these extensions have a significant impact on the overall appearance or structure of the building. According to Cork council regulations, significant extensions are typically those that exceed 40 square meters (approximately 430 square feet) for a terraced house or 30 square meters (approximately 322 square feet) for any other house type. When planning such extensions in Cork, it’s essential to adhere to these specific size limits and consider applying for planning permission if your project falls outside of these boundaries.

Protected Structures

Cork is home to numerous protected structures and conservation areas. Any work on or near these structures will likely need planning permission to preserve their historical significance.

Change in Height or Footprint

When undertaking a project that entails alterations in the height or footprint of a building, it’s essential to be aware that, in most cases, planning permission will be necessary. Cork council outlines specific limits to consider in such scenarios. For instance, a planned extension should not exceed the height of the existing building, and the additional height is generally limited to one story above the current structure. Deviations from these criteria typically require you to apply for planning permission to comply with Cork’s regulations.

When Can You Avail of Exemptions?

While planning permission is a standard requirement, there are specific exemptions for minor works or alterations.

These exemptions are designed to streamline the process for less complex projects.

In Cork, exemptions may apply in the following cases:


When it comes to small-scale extensions to residential properties, it’s important to know that certain exemptions may apply, but they must meet specific criteria outlined by the Cork council. These criteria typically include size limitations, which state that an extension should not exceed a particular square footage. For instance, for terraced houses, the maximum allowable extension size is generally limited to 40 square meters, while for other house types, the limit may be around 30 square meters. Meeting these size restrictions is crucial to potentially qualify for exemptions under Cork’s regulations.

Internal Alterations

Internal modifications that do not affect the external appearance or structural integrity of a building are often exempt.


When it comes to adding a conservatory to your property in Cork, you should be aware that it may be exempt from planning permission requirements under specific conditions and criteria set by the Cork council. To potentially qualify for exemption, your conservatory must adhere to certain size and placement guidelines. Generally, these criteria dictate that the conservatory’s size should not exceed a specified square footage limit, which can vary depending on the property type. For example, the maximum size for conservatories attached to terraced houses might be around 40 square meters, while for other types of houses, it could be approximately 30 square meters. Meeting these size and placement conditions is essential to determine if your conservatory project falls within the exemption category outlined by Cork’s regulations.

Change of Use

Changing the use of a building within specific categories may fall under exemptions, as long as the change complies with zoning regulations.

It’s essential to note that even if your project falls under exemptions, it must adhere to all relevant building regulations, health and safety standards, and environmental considerations.

For detailed and up-to-date information regarding planning permission and exemptions in Cork, it’s advisable to consult the official channels.

The Cork County Council and the Cork City Council websites provide comprehensive guidance and resources on this subject. Here are some helpful links:

These websites offer in-depth information, application forms, and contact details for planning authorities, making it easier to navigate Cork’s regulations.