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Belfast takes drastic steps to tackle application backlog

Words: Roger Milne

Belfast City Council has agreed new procedures to deal with the backlog of so-called legacy planning applications facing the local planning authority as powers were transferred from the Department of Environment to the local authority.

Nearly 800 ‘legacy’ planning applications were transferred to the council with the reform of local government in April.

Although the number has been reduced to 450, a significant backlog remains.

‘Legacy’ applications will now be approved by the chair and vice-chair of the planning committee in conjunction with the town solicitor and planning officers.

Under the new arrangements councillors will receive a list of outstanding ‘legacy’ applications for consideration and will be able to request that individual applications from their own areas are considered by the planning committee.

Planning committee chair, councillor Matt Garrett, said: “We hope to ease the situation for all those who have been waiting for some time to undertake work, but also to speed up the process for those who have made recent applications.

“Councillors can still highlight applications where local concerns are a priority, so I think this is good news for everyone involved,” he insisted.