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NI appeal agency highlights reduction in overdue cases

Words: Roger Milne
Backlog / iStock_000005510636

The latest annual report of the Northern Ireland Planning Appeals Commission has highlighted a reduction in the number of cases in the system for a long time, as well as the streamlining of the allocations process and the operation in full of a new case management system.

In 2016-17, the commission received 305 appeals. The report notes that the commission "disposed of 349 cases with 304 decisions, and 45 appeals being withdrawn or declared invalid".

There has been a "significant reduction" in median times for decisions, from 29 weeks to 23 weeks.

The success rate at appeal is currently 28 per cent, a reduction on the previous year. Hearings are the main method of processing appeals, although this delivers the longest median time for a decision, says the report.

The commission issued 45 costs decisions in addition to the 304 appeal decisions in 2016-17. In most cases, no unreasonable behaviour was found so costs were awarded in only five of the cases.

In 2016-17 the commission reported to the government on eight referred cases, while three cases that were referred to the commission were placed on hold pending additional environmental information. 

Three public inquiries were held and it is expected that these will be reported on in this financial year.

Chief commissioner Andrea Kells noted that examinations into local development plans are expected to be a major feature of the work of the commission in the coming years.

“Significant investment went into preparing for this work in 2016-17, which included consultation exercises in respect of the commission’s Draft Procedures for the Independent Examination of Local Development Plans and commissioner training,” she wrote in the report.

The report can be found on the Planning Appeals Commission website.

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