Reacting to the latest Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2019/20 Annual Statistical Bulletin published by the Department for Infrastructure this morning, NILGA Head of Policy, Karen Smyth said:
“It is very welcome to see the continued improvement in planning statistics across councils in Northern Ireland, and it is particularly pleasing to see the overall improvement in processing times for major applications with 8 of the 11 councils either meeting the target or showing significant improvement in processing times. Several councils have shown huge improvement in this area and should be commended for this. It is clear that the vast majority of applications are being processed in a timely fashion, with major applications forming a vital but limited part of the overall picture, and councils on average taking 14 weeks to process local applications, within the 15 week target.
“NILGA also welcomes the provision of statistics on renewable energy applications. With work ongoing regarding the expected publication of a substantial new energy strategy, councils will need to be well informed on this area of development to ensure the strategic government policy and decarbonisation aims tie in with the 11 Local Development and other local infrastructure plans.
“It is clear councils are more than meeting their targets and it is great to see sustained high performance across the planning system. Covid-19 has presented serious challenges to how councils operate over the past three months, but they have adapted commendably to ensure the planning process continues, given its immense importance to our regional economy.
“However we note with some concern, the increasing number of applications for single dwellings in the countryside outside development limits, and would urge Minister Mallon and her Department, in partnership with councils, to revisit and take forward the 2016 call for evidence on the strategic policy for development in the countryside as a societal, environmental and economic priority for Northern Ireland.”
The Department for Infrastructure published the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2019/20 Annual Statistical Bulletin this morning. The publication is available on the Department for Infrastructure website at: www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/articles/planning-activity-statistics