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Northern Ireland: Planning update June 2024

As we enter the third quarter of 2024, we consider the changes being introduced by councils in Northern Ireland to the pre-application discussion process and validation of applications. We also provide an update on the latest position with the Local Development Plan (LDP) process across each council.

Local Development Plan

Our last LDP update in April 2024 provided a detailed review on the position of each LDP across each council.

The table below provides a summary on the current position and what the next stage of preparation is for each council. The main update since April 2024 has been the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) issuing their report on the Independent Examination of the Derry City and Strabane District Council Plan Strategy to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

LDP summary of the current position

Pre-Application Discussion (PAD)

Belfast City Council were the first council in Northern Ireland to introduce fees to support their PAD process. Other councils have since followed suit with Fermanagh and Omagh Council and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council having introduced their own fee structure for their PAD process. The table below summarises which councils require a fee for a PAD and if councils are planning to impose a fee.

Summary on which councils require a fee for a PAD

Validation Checklists

Currently the legal requirements to make a planning application are set out in The Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and The Planning (General Development Procedure) Order (NI) 2015.

Some councils have introduced Validation Checklists which outline additional information that may be required to support the determination of an application. There are also guides to help applicants determine the type of information to be submitted, depending on the nature of the planning application. The level of information is intended to be proportionate to the nature and scale of a proposed development.

The Department is also considering introducing legislation for councils to bring forward validation checklists to support the validation process. This follows the public consultation exercise they undertook in January 2023 and is intended to mean that checklists would have to be adhered to for an application to be valid.

The table below outlines those councils which currently operate a non-statutory Validation Checklist system with reference to the respective checklists.

Table outlining councils which currently operate a non-statutory Validation Checklist system

Should you have any queries about or interests in any of the above-mentioned council areas, or any further queries of planning in Northern Ireland, please get in touch with Philip Stinson, Emma Kelly or Conor Campbell.

26 June 2024


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