Planning Portal

Environment Minister announces the opening of a new Planning Office for Belfast City Council

Published on Mon, 9 Mar 2015 by ecomms@doeni.gov.uk.
A new Local Planning Office for Belfast City Council opening on 30 March 2015 is one of the final steps in the transfer of planning to councils on 1 April.
At present DOE Planning for the Belfast council area operates from Bedford House, Belfast. From Monday 30 March 2015, experienced Planners from the DOE Area Planning Team will relocate to the new Belfast Planning Service in Cecil Ward Building, which is part of Belfast City Council. The council will take over responsibility for planning services for the Belfast area on 1 April. Relocating the planning office to the Cecil Ward Building alongside other council services will provide a more convenient, easier to access service for the public.

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.

"Over the past number of months we have worked closely with councils to establish a planning office for each new council area. Having all staff, IT arrangements and other practicalities in place ahead of transfer will help ensure continuity of service to the public. The relocation of the Belfast planning office to the Cecil Ward Building is the final piece in this puzzle which is designed to deliver a seamless transfer on 1 April.”

Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Presiding Councillor, Belfast City Council, said: “The transfer of planning powers is central to our ambitions for the future development of the city. The council is ready to harness these new place shaping powers and to maximise the opportunity to grow our city for the benefit of everyone who lives, works, visits and invests in Belfast.

“We’ve worked closely with our counterparts in DOE to ensure a smooth transfer of services to council from 1 April. Skilled planning officers and support staff are ready to make the transition and we welcome the experience they bring to our new Belfast Planning Service.”

All planning applications and queries for the Belfast council area should be directed to this new planning office from 30 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 http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/newcouncils

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 - http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/planning-reform.

3. Further details are also available on the Planning NI website - http://www.planningni.gov.uk/index/news/news_other/common_news_new_local_planning_offices_16012015.htm

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).

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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