Planning Portal

PPS 1: General Principles
Development Control: Major Planning Applications

54. Article 31 of the 1991 Planning Order lays down a special procedure that enables the Department to reserve to itself the final decision on proposals that raise issues of national or regional importance or on cases of a particularly contentious and sensitive nature.  The Department may deem an application to be a major planning application if it considers that the proposed development would, if permitted:
  • involve a substantial departure from the development plan; or  
  • be of significance to the whole or a substantial part of Northern Ireland; or
  • affect the whole of a neighbourhood; or  
  • involve the construction or alteration of an access to, or development near, a motorway or trunk road.
55. The Department may decide to hold a Public Inquiry into a major planning application to consider representations and where  material planning factors are the subject of dispute. If a Public Inquiry is not held the Department will issue a notice of opinion to approve or refuse the application. Following the issue of a notice of opinion the applicant can request a hearing before the Planning Appeals Commission Opens link in a new browser window. In determining a major application the Department shall, where an inquiry or hearing is held, take into account the report of the Planning Appeals Commission. The decision of the Department on a major application shall be final.
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