Planning Portal

Environment Minister announces the opening of a new Planning Office for Ards and North Down council

Published on Mon, 9 Mar 2015 by
A new Local Planning Office opening on 23 March 2015 will see people in Newtownards having planners on their doorstep for the first time.
At present DOE Planning for the Ards and North Down council area operates from Rathkeltair House, Downpatrick. From Monday 23 March 2015, experienced Planners from the DOE Area Planning Team will relocate to council offices in Newtownards. From there they will work alongside future council colleagues while ensuring a normal planning service is maintained for the area covered by the new council.

This marks another important step in the transfer of planning to councils on 1 April 2015.

Welcoming the move Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “Planning reform is about bringing forward improvements to the planning system, improvements that will bring planning closer to the public and make it easier for the public to access and participate in the planning process. This is part of the wider local government reform programme which will ultimately deliver local councils which are more effective, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their local business and community.

"We are now just a matter of weeks away from the transfer of planning functions to councils. The relocation of the Local Planning Office for Ards and North Down Council to Newtownards is one of the final steps in our preparations and marks the completion of another important stage in the process.”

Presiding Councillor of Ards and North Down Council, Councillor Alan Graham, said: “I welcome the transfer of planning matters to locally elected representatives which will enable greater consultation with the public on a variety of issues. These will include the development of the local Area Plan, the long term direction on local planning issues and will inform the decision making process on priority issues relating to planning.”

All planning applications and queries for the Ards and North Down council area should be directed to this new planning office from 23 March. All applications already in the system for the new council area will transfer along with the planning staff and planning officers will continue to process these as normal.

If you are unsure which new council area you are in, you can find out at

Notes to editors:

1. Planning functions transfer from central government to local government on 1 April 2015. From this date councils will be responsible for drawing up local development plans, making the majority of planning decisions, and shaping how their area grows and develops in ways that respond to the needs of the communities they serve.

2. Further information about the transfer of planning in general can be found in the Planning Reform section of the NIDirect website -

3. Further details are also available on the Planning NI website -

4. To contact the planning office, members of the public can telephone as they do now using NI Direct number 0300 200 7830 (NI only) or 02891 513101.

5. For media enquiries contact the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours contact the Executive Information service Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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