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Only one NI council meets target for processing major applications – stats

Words: Roger Milne
Northern Ireland / Shutterstock_152456498

Only one council, Mid and East Antrim, met the processing time target for major applications during 2017/18, according to the latest statistics compiled by the Northern Ireland Executive.

However, processing times decreased from 2016/17 in seven of the 11 councils.

The average processing time for major applications was just over 50 weeks across all councils – down from the 69 weeks reported for the previous year, but still well over the statutory processing time target of 30 weeks

In respect of local applications, the picture was a bit better. Councils took on average just over 15 weeks to process these, just missing the target but an improvement of one week on the previous year.

The shortest average processing time for local applications was less than 10 weeks in Mid and East Antrim, whereas the longest was nearly 22 weeks in Lisburn and Castlereagh. In all, five of the 11 councils achieved the 15-week target.

The figures show there were 12,933 planning applications received during 2017/18, a decrease of nearly 1 per cent over the previous financial year. This comprised 12,770 local, 161 major and two regionally significant development applications.

In total, 12,314 planning applications were decided, a decrease of 5 per cent year on year. This is less than half the peak level of 30,161 decisions recorded in 2005/06, before the economic downturn.

Nearly four in every five (77 per cent) enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks, 7 percentage points above the statutory 70 per cent target, but a decline of almost 4 percentage points on 2016/17 performance.  

Ten of the 11 councils met the target with a high of 94 per cent concluded within 39 weeks in Antrim and Newtownabbey. Newry, Mourne and Down concluded 60 per cent of cases within the target time.

The approval rate for all planning applications was 94 per cent, similar to the rate a year earlier.  Approval rates varied across councils in 2017/18 from highs of 98 per cent in Mid Ulster and 97 per cent in Derry City and Strabane, to a low of 88 per cent in Newry, Mourne and Down.

The statistics in full can be found on the Department for Infrastructure website.

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