Planning Portal

Increase in residential planning applications in urban areas

Published on Thu, 10 Oct 2013 by ecomms@doeni.gov.uk.
The provisional Northern Ireland Planning Development Management Statistics Report April – June 2013 is published today.
The report shows a notable increase of approaching one-fifth (17%) in the number of residential planning applications in urban areas, with 790 submitted in the first quarter of 2013/14 compared to 676 for the same period last year. This follows a series of large successive falls in these applications in quarter one over recent years and contrasts with the first quarter in 2008/09 when over three times as many (2,452) were received.

Despite this apparent change in trend, the overall number of planning applications submitted in Northern Ireland is still falling, down by 7% on the same time last year (from 3,233 to 2,997). This latest reduction, however, is significantly less than the falls recorded in the first quarter of previous years which were typically in the range of 16-17%. Whilst it is still too early to conclude whether these changes will persist in future quarters, they may, in part, reflect improving economic conditions.

There have also been improvements in application processing performance compared with the same period last year. Processing times were all lower for Major, Intermediate, and Minor applications for the first quarter in 2013/14 than for the corresponding quarter last year. Assessment of actual performance with the 2013/14 targets will be made at the end of the current financial year.

The key points to note in the bulletin are:

1. Applications received

· In the first quarter of 2013/14, DOE Planning received 2,997 planning applications. This is a decrease of 7% compared with the equivalent quarter in 2012/13 (3,233).

· Applications for full planning permission make up 81% of applications received so far. Applications for residential development have also continued to fall, although by a smaller proportion at 4%, from 1,719 in the first quarter of 2012/13 to 1,644 in the first quarter of 2013/14.

2. Applications decided

· DOE Planning issued decisions on 2,825 applications in the first quarter of 2013/14, down by almost one fifth (18%) for the same quarter last year (3,437).

· The number of decisions issued for full planning permission was 2,240. These type of planning applications make up almost four fifths (79%) of all decisions issued during the first quarter of 2013/14.

3. Applications approved

· Overall, 95% of decisions issued for planning applications in quarter one 2013/14 were approved, one percentage point higher than for the same period in 2012/13.

4. Applications received for residential development

· The majority of applications received by the Department are still for residential development, accounting for over half (55%) of all applications received in quarter one of 2013/14.

· In urban areas, the number of residential applications increased from 676 to 790 (up 17%), conversely in rural areas the number fell from 1,043 to 854 (down 18%). Interestingly, urban and rural areas represented similar proportions of residential applications (48% and 52% respectively).

5. Applications decided for residential development

· In urban areas, the number of decisions fell by almost a fifth (18%), from 832 to 682; compared with rural areas where the number of decisions fell by almost a quarter (24%) from 1,176 to 897.

6. Renewable energy applications

· Renewable energy applications include wind turbines, wind farms, solar panels, biomass burners, hydroelectric schemes etc. The vast majority of renewable energy applications received in quarter one 2013/14 were for single wind turbines (185 out of 238 renewable energy applications received or 78%).

· The number of decisions issued against renewable energy applications increased by over a quarter (26%) from 142 in the first quarter of 2012/13 to 179 in the first quarter of 2013/14. Over nine in ten (94%) of renewable energy applications were approved.

7. Enforcement Statistics

· In the first quarter 2013/14, there were 745 enforcement cases opened and 844 enforcement cases closed, representing activity increases of 7% and 11% respectively on same quarter last year.

· The main reason for an enforcement case being closed was because, following investigation, it was deemed that no breach had actually occurred. This accounted for almost one-third (32%) of closed cases during the first quarter.

8. Results for Key Performance Targets

· DOE Planning have a key commitment under the Programme for Government to ensure that 90% of large scale investment (LSI) planning decisions are made within six months and applications with job creation potential are given additional weight. However, this target is to be phased in over a three year period with 75% representing the interim target for 2013/14. Between April and June 2013, there were 14 LSI applications where a decision was either reached or it was possible for a decision to have been reached within the six month processing target. Of these, 12, or 86%, were processed within six months.

· There are three separate annual targets depending on application type. The annual processing target for Major planning applications (predominantly housing developments, commercial and retail development) is to process to decision or withdrawal in an average of 20 weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, the average processing time for major applications was 25 weeks, lower than the 26 weeks achieved for same period last year.

· The annual processing target for Intermediate planning applications (predominantly single houses) is to process to decision or withdrawal in an average of 18 weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, the average processing time for intermediate applications was 17 weeks compared with 21 weeks in quarter one 2012/13.

· The annual processing target for Minor planning applications (predominantly alterations and extensions to houses) is to process to decision or withdrawal in an average of 12 weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, the average processing time for minor applications was 11 weeks compared with 12 weeks in quarter one in 2012/13.

9. Results for operational targets

· There are two annual targets for the validation of a planning application. The first is to validate 85% of applications within six days and the second is to validate 95% of applications within 10 days. In quarter one 2013/14, 91% of planning applications were validated within six days and 99% were validated within 10 days.

· There are a further two annual targets for the time taken to issue a decision after last Council consultation. The first is to issue 85% of decisions within two weeks and the second is to issue 95% of decisions within four weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, 89% of decisions were issued within two weeks of last Council consultation and 94% were issued within four weeks of last Council consultation.

There are two key annual targets for enforcement activity. The first is for 95% of high priority cases to be discussed and certified within two working weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, 84% of high priority cases were discussed and certified within two weeks. The second is to process to a conclusion 70% of enforcement cases within 39 weeks. In quarter one 2013/14, 60% of enforcement cases were brought to a conclusion within this time period.

Notes to editors:

1. This is the latest in a series of Quarterly Development Management Statistics Bulletin.

2. There are ten performance targets covered in the report, covering Planning performance in relation to the processing of planning applications and enforcement activity. Note that the definition of large scale investment applications has been reviewed and has now been extended to include not only headquarters applications but all such applications also received in local offices and identified as such by planning staff.

3. Planning is organised into five area offices and a Headquarters, details of which are available in appendix four of the bulletin.

4. The records of all applications from 1 April 2013 to 30 June 2013 were transferred in August 2013 from a live database and inspected for consistency in coding before figures were finalised for publication.

5. Electronic copies of the ‘Planning Service Development Management Statistical Bulletin’ http://www.planningni.gov.uk/common-eplanning-stats-publications.htm Hard copies are available free of charge from:

Department of the Environment
Analytical Services Branch
Department of the Environment
Room 6-10
Clarence Court
Belfast BT2 8GB

Telephone: 028 9054 0907
E-mail: stats.planning@doeni.gov.uk
Website: http://www.planningni.gov.uk

Further breakdowns of the figures presented in the bulletin are also available on request.

6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058 or for out of office hours, contact the duty press officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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