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Planning performance dips following council handover

Words: Roger Milne

Planning decision-making has slowed dramatically following the transfer of powers to councils, according to official statistics just published.

These show that over the period April to June 2015 the total number of decisions issued was down by at least a quarter to 2,013 compared with the same quarter last year.

This represents a 10-year low after recent quarters had seen performance levelling out following a longer-term downward trend.  The number of applications received also fell between equivalent quarters this year and last, but were down by a much less significant 5 per cent to 3,188.

Average processing times for handling applications have shot up by over six weeks compared with the period immediately before the handover of planning powers.

But that average figure masks a wide variation between councils - ranging from 13.1 weeks on average in Fermanagh & Omagh, to 28.4 weeks in Newry, Mourne and Down. Nine of the 11 councils were not meeting the 15-week statutory processing target during this first quarter.

Visit the Northern Ireland Executive website for more information.