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For some businesses, location is king – retail businesses, restaurants and takeaways all require a location with a passing trade. Many manufacturing businesses want a location that is not on a main shopping street.

Having said that, there are probably only two possible choices for your new business: -

Work from home; or
Find a workspace somewhere else.

Working from home is a simple and cheap solution for certain kinds of start-up businesses. If your business idea is office-based, and requires you to meet your customers in their offices, then working from home might be practical.

Experience has shown that you will probably need to separate your domestic space and your workspace. You will need to check with Dublin City Council Planning Department to find out if you need to get planning permission for your workspace. You also need to check that your insurance policy will cover working from home.

When you work from home your business will have a residential address and telephone number. Where the address is of importance to your business you might consider the combination of working from home with a ‘virtual’ office service, giving you a business address, and professional telephone answering services, but without the cost of owning the office.

Working from a workspace away from home will generally always be more expensive, both in terms of the cost of the premises, but also in commuting to your place of work.

Some business ideas will require particular types of premises. Light industrial businesses and food production businesses have very individual requirements that must be matched to particular buildings, and will probably include specialist services such as three-phase electricity.

If you are looking for a high street location to develop a retail business, then you must do a lot of research. You will need to be sure of the number of people passing your door, and whether these people are potential shoppers for your product. Good retail space will always be expensive, but location will be vital if your retail business is to prosper.

For many start-up businesses outside of the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors, the opportunity to find space in an Enterprise Centre should be fully explored. There are a number of these around Dublin offering a variety of space solutions for start-up businesses. These solutions range from ‘hot-desking’, literally providing a serviced desk space for short periods, to ‘turn-key’ units for developing your business concept or product. In all cases Enterprise Centres will encourage you to network with other users of their services. You will probably find this to be invaluable as you work to establish your business.

Enterprise Centres often offer subsidised accommodation for an initial period, but remember that they are in the business of encouraging a constant stream of fledgling businesses. You can expect, therefore, that you will be encouraged to move on from the Centre as your own business becomes established.

Planning Permission

If you find yourself in the position of needing planning permission for your new business, do not despair. Dublin City Council Planning Department has done much work to make the planning system much more streamlined. The Council is very keen to encourage new business; even more so in the current economic climate.

There are three types of planning permission: outline permission, (full) permission, and permission consequent on outline permission.

If you want to see if the planning authority agrees in principle to you building on a particular site, or building a large extension, you might apply for outline permission, which will require you to produce only the plans and particulars that are necessary to enable the planning authority to make a decision in relation to the siting, layout or other proposals for development.

If you get outline permission, you will have to submit detailed drawings and receive consequent permission before you start building work. Generally, outline permissions have a 3-year duration.

Full planning permission will require you to provide all of the details above, plus technical details relating to the fabric of the building and the type of construction to be employed.

If the local authority decides to give you planning permission, you will get a notice of intention to grant planning permission. If no one appeals the decision to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks of the date of this decision, you will get grant of permission from the local authority.

Generally, the local planning authority must make a decision on a planning application within eight weeks of receiving the application, but if the local authority needs more information, or the decision is appealed, it may take much longer.

It is an offence to carry out any work that requires planning permission, without planning permission, and the offence can carry very heavy fines and imprisonment. However, if a genuine mistake has been made, it is possible to apply for planning permission to retain an unauthorised development. This permission may be refused; in which case, the unauthorised development will have to be demolished.

Further Information

You apply for planning permission by filling in a planning application form and submitting it, together with required documents and fees, to Dublin City Council, Planning Department, Civic Offices, Block 4, Ground Floor, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.

Tel. 01 2222222

If you are employing an architect, he/she will normally make the application on your behalf.

The Planning Department will be pleased to give you advice about how to apply, whether your proposals are likely to comply with the development plan, what other documents you will need, what the fee will be and any other requirements. It is a good idea to talk to the Council before you make an application. This may save you long delays later on.

In general, you will need to submit the following documents with your application: -

  • A location map (6 copies).
  • Site or layout plan (6 copies).
  • Other plans, elevations and sections (6 copies).
  • Copies of public notices (newspaper and site).
  • A plan showing the position of a site notice or notices.
  • The appropriate fee.

Generally, in addition to planning permission, commercial development requires a fire safety certificate, and full compliance with the Building Regulations.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government publishes a series of leaflets on all aspects of the planning system and these are available free of charge from the Department or from planning authorities. They cover a whole range of issues including how to make a planning application, lodge an appeal, requirements for change of use, building extensions, in a word everything you need to know but didn’t know who to ask. These leaflets can be obtained from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Custom House, Dublin 1.

Tel. 1890 202021.

They can also be downloaded from