The Planning (2011 Act) (Commencement No.3) and (Transitional Provisions) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 was made on 12 February 2015. The Order makes transitional provisions for the handling of undetermined applications made to the Department and enforcement action instigated by the Department prior to the transfer of planning powers to councils, as well as transitional provisions for undecided appeals against a decision taken by the Department under the provisions of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991.
For undetermined planning applications, the Order provides that any applications included in a list published on the Department’s website on the date of transfer of functions to local government (1 April 2015) shall be treated as if they had been referred to the Department under section 29 of the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 – see Annex A.
In addition, any enforcement action identified in a similar list shall be treated as if it had been done by, to, or in relation to the Department in connection with its Enforcement functions under the Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 – see Annex B.
Since the transfer of functions to local government (1 April 2015) a number of these applications have been determined and enforcement cases closed. The Annexes have been amended to reflect this and only the cases that are still ongoing are listed.
• Annex A - Retained Planning Applications
• Annex B - Retained Enforcement Cases
The primary responsibility for taking enforcement action lies with the council for its given administrative area. The reserve powers to take enforcement action at the discretion of the Department are only intended to be exercised in exceptional circumstances. The Department’s reserve powers are not an alternative to the councils much broader enforcement powers.