Planning Portal

Planning Process for Significant Proposals Streamlined

Published on Wed, 5 Dec 2007
The Planning Service has launched a pre application discussion (PAD) initiative for strategically important planning applications to improve the quality of those applications and to speed up the decision making process.
Welcoming the initiative Environment Minister, Arlene Foster said: “ PADs is just one of a number of ongoing measures to improve the processing of planning applications and make a positive contribution to the economy. It will also link directly to the key medium to long term reform programme for the planning system”.
PADs will allow the Planning Service to provide general advice and identify key issues that need to be considered as part of the planning application. David Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Planning Service explained: “We want applicants to engage with us in meaningful pre-application discussions on major strategic development proposals. These new arrangements will only be effective if there is a joint commitment from both the applicant and the Planning Service. A mutual agreement to improve the quality of applications will maximise the prospects of getting through the statutory process quickly. This approach has already proven successful on a number of strategic proposals, such as Ikea, Titanic Quarter and Coca Cola”.
David Ferguson emphasised that Planning Service is keen to engage in discussion with applicants before they submit their planning application. The aim is to identify obvious problems at an early stage in the process and promote high quality applications to maximise the prospects of reaching a decision quickly. An indicative programme with expected timescales for the processing of the planning application will be provided and key milestones such as the submission of the application with the required supporting documentation will be agreed.
John Armstrong, Managing Director of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), welcomed the initiative and said: “The CEF has worked closely with the Planning Service in taking this initiative forward and very much supports the need for applicants to submit properly documented, good quality applications and for the Planning Service to speed up its decision taking process. This is a welcome first step on a number of ongoing measures as part of the wider Reform Programme”.
Notes to Editors:
1. Pre-application discussions are available for:
  • strategically important applications including those with key economic implications;
  • major commercial, industrial and other public sector proposals;
  • major Quality Initiative housing schemes, including all Housing Association applications; and
  • major infrastructure projects for example, in relation to waste disposal, waste water treatment and energy.
2. Strategically important applications generally must have significant economic and/or social benefits for the region, or a significant part of the region. However, they may relate to some smaller scale proposals for example in the health and education, sectors which fall within the scope of the wider Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland infrastructure programme.
3. The Strategic Projects Division at Planning Headquarters and the Divisional Planning Offices will manage these strategic planning applications which are economically and socially significant through the planning process to decision as quickly as possible using PADs and active case management.
4. This approach has already proven successful on a number of major proposals, such as those relating to Ikea, Titanic Quarter, and Coca Cola.
5. The Information leaflet for Prospective Applicants / Developers sets out Planning Service’s commitment to shortening the processing time of economic and socially significant applications whilst also highlighting the reciprocal requirements of applicants. It is available on the Planning Service web site, at HQ and DPOs.
6. A mutual commitment to PADs will improve the quality of applications and speed up the process of determining planning applications.
7. PADs are just one of a number of projects which are ongoing in the short term to streamline the Development Control process and to improve efficiency and effectiveness as part of the ongoing wider Reform Programme.
8. For media enquiries, please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0003 or out-of-hours call EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.
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