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Councils struggle to meet major application-handling target in NI

Words: Roger Milne
Backlog being addressed / Shutterstock_204114727

Only one Northern Ireland council - Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council - met the statutory 30-week average target for processing major planning applications last year, according to the Department for Infrastructure’s latest annual statistical report.

The 12 months in question cover the first year of the devolved regime that saw the new set of ‘super’ councils taking responsibility for planning.

Councils took on average 19.4 weeks to process local applications – over four weeks longer than the statutory target.

The shortest average processing time was 14.0 weeks in Antrim and Newtownabbey – the longest was 34.8 weeks in Newry, Mourne and Down.

Three of the 11 councils - Antrim and Newtownabbey, Fermanagh and Omagh, and Mid and East Antrim - were within the 15-week target whilst Mid-Ulster was just a little above it at 15.2 weeks.

Overall, there were 12,220 planning applications received in Northern Ireland in 2015-16, a fall of 5 per cent on the previous financial year.

The number of renewable energy applications, principally for wind turbines, fell by 39 per cent compared with the previous year.

The overall approval rate for all planning applications for 2015/16 was 93.7 per cent, an increase of half a percentage point on the results for 2014/15.

Image credit | Shutterstock