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Northern Ireland Local Development Plans – Where are they?

You could be forgiven for wondering what has happened to the roll out of Local Development Plans (LDPs) across Northern Ireland.

When planning powers were transferred to local councils in April 2015 the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) estimated that new LDPs would be in place within three and a half years. Almost four years on since the transfer of powers, it is evident that this initial estimate was very optimistic.

Almost all councils have had to seek formal revisions to their LDP timetable, and we estimate that it is likely to be 2023/2024 before adopted Plans will be in place. 

Draft Plan Strategies

2019 is an important year for the publication of draft Plan Strategies. The draft Plan Strategy is a key document in the preparation of the new LDP. It is essentially a blueprint which will inform and guide development decisions for the next 15 years. As the name suggests, it is a strategic document which will identify the number of new homes to be built and sets out the council’s aspirations on the number of new jobs to be created, to mention just a few of the strategic themes that will be discussed.


A potential timeline

To date, two draft Plan Strategies have been published. Belfast City Council was first out of the blocks in August 2018, closely followed by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in November.

We expect Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council to present their draft Plan Strategy to Planning Committee in March, but it is likely to be July before it is formally published. There are indications that Derry & Strabane District Council and Mid Ulster Council may publish in Q1; if so, we expect this to take place in February.

Armagh, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council had hoped to publish in Q1, 2019. This will not occur and both councils are currently seeking to revise their LDP timetable having consulted with the DfI. It is likely to be later this year – Q3 before they publish.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are beyond the timelines agreed with DfI, and to the best of our knowledge have not revised their LDP timetable. We estimate that it will be 2020 before a draft Plan Strategy is published.

Causeway Coast & Glens and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council are expected to publish their respective draft Plans in Q3 of 2019.

The only council not mentioned yet is Ards & North Down Borough Council, who are some distance behind the majority of councils and will be publishing their Preferred Options Paper in March. It is likely to be Q2 2020 before we see a draft Plan Strategy.

Should you have any queries on a specific Development Plan, or want to understand more about the opportunities arising from LDP, please contact Angela Wiggam or Emma Walker.

5 February 2019