NMD record highest number of planning applications in NI

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

By Peter Bayne

NEWRY, Mourne and Down recorded the highest number of planning applications than any party of Northern Ireland in the past year.

During 2020/21, the number of planning applications received varied across all councils, Newry, Mourne and Down leading the way with 1,657 (accounting for 12.9% of all applications received across NI).

Not only was the local Council highest in the number of applications for planning but also tops in the number of decisions recorded, 1,424.

Approval rate locally was, however, the lowest in Northern Ireland 91.24.

Meanwhile, a report published on Friday by the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics, reveals that the Northern Ireland approval rate for residential planning applications was 95.9%. In Newry, Mourne and Down District that fell to 92%

The report shows that the volume of planning applications received and processed (i.e. decided or withdrawn), and enforcement cases opened, closed and concluded, were lowest during the first quarter of the year, before increasing in subsequent quarters. Overall, the number of applications received exceeded the total recorded for the previous year. However, despite increases in the latter three quarters, the number of applications processed and enforcement activity for the year as a whole were at much lower levels compared with 2019/20.

Overall processing performance in 2020/21 was also impacted considerably by the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic and therefore caution should be taken when interpreting these figures and when making comparisons with other time periods.

Across councils, Newry, Mourne and Down had the highest number of live cases at the end of March 2021 (819), with almost one-half (49.5%) of these in the system for over two years; the highest proportion across all councils.

Applications received

During 2020/21, 12,833 planning applications were received in Northern Ireland (NI) by councils and the Department; an increase of 5.1% from the previous financial year (12,207).

During Q1 2020/21, the first full quarter impacted by the restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of applications received was 2,309. This was the lowest

number received in any quarter since the series began in April 2002.

During the following three quarters there were consecutive increases in the number of applications received, with the 3,672 received in Q4 2020/21 the highest number reported for any quarter since Q1 2011/12 Planning activity and processing performance in 2020/21 were impacted by the restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This should be borne in mind and caution should be taken when interpreting these figures and when making comparisons with other time periods.

During 2020/21, 12,833 planning applications were received; a 5% increase from the previous financial year. This comprised 12,709 local, 123 major and one regionally significant application.

A total of 10,483 planning applications were decided during 2020/21; a decrease of over one-tenth from the previous financial year. Decisions were issued on 10,357 local, 123 major and three regionally significant applications during 2020/21.

The average processing time for local applications brought to a decision or withdrawal during 2020/21 was 17.8 weeks across all councils. This exceeds the 15 week target and represents an increase of 3.8 weeks from the previous financial year. Three of the 11 councils met the 15 week target in 2020/21.

The average processing time for major applications brought to a decision or withdrawal during 2020/21 was 61.4 weeks across all councils.

This represents an increase of 8.6 weeks compared with the previous financial year and is more than double the 30 week target. None of the 11 councils met the 30 week target in 2020/21.

Across councils 69.9% of enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks during 2020/21. This falls just outside the statutory target of 70% and represents a considerable decrease from the rate reported 2019/20 (81.4%). Individually, six of the 11 councils met the target in 2020/21.

Six councils met the target during 2020/21: Antrim and Newtownabbey (90.8% of

enforcement cases concluded within 39 weeks); Mid Ulster (88.6%); Lisburn and Castlereagh

(83.6%); Mid and East Antrim (82.6%); Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (77.7%); and

Derry City and Strabane (73.3%)

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