Northern Ireland Planning Service

Planning Legislation

Specific local legislation to control the development of land in Northern Ireland was first introduced in the early 1930’s and for forty years local government administered the planning system.
In 1973 local government was reorganised and when the provisions in the Planning (NI) Order 1972 were commenced, the Ministry of Development became the planning authority for Northern Ireland in place of the local planning authorities.
Responsibility for planning control was subsequently transferred to the Department of the Environment, which is now responsible under the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 for planning matters.

Planning Bill

The Planning Bill was introduced to the NI Assembly on 14 January 2013. The Bill aims to speed up reforms and modernise the planning system before the intended transfer of the majority of planning powers to local government in 2015.  
The primary objective of the Bill is to accelerate the implementation of a number of reforms contained within the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. The Bill also introduces additional provisions to underpin the role of planning in promoting economic development.
The reforms in the 2011 Act are critical to improving the planning system. The Bill will allow the reforms to be in place sooner and will provide an opportunity for the Department to test them before planning powers transfer.  It also paves the way for the transfer of a planning system which councils, planners, developers and the public are already using and which they know and understand.
The Bill is intended as an interim measure most of which will remain in place only until it is possible to fully commence the 2011 Act at which point it will be repealed.
Key provisions in the Bill aim to deliver:
  • Measures to strengthen the planning system in promoting economic development;
  • Measures to further sustainable development and enhance the environment;
  • Faster processing of planning applications;
  • Faster and fairer planning appeals system;
  • Enhanced community involvement; and
  • Simpler and tougher enforcement.
Note: These documents may change as a result of any amendments during the Assembly process. To check any possible changes to the Bill as it passes through the Northern Ireland Assembly

Planning Act (NI) 2011

The Planning Act (NI) 2011 received Royal Assent on 4 May 2011.
The Act provides for the transfer of the majority of planning functions from central government to district councils. It also brings forward a number of reforms to the planning system. The Act and the complementary Explanatory Notes are shown below. The Notes have been prepared by the Department in order to assist the reader of the Act. It does not form part of the Act and has not been endorsed by the NI Assembly. The Notes should be read in conjunction with the Act.

Lists of all current Planning Legislation

Current Planning Legislation is listed below: