The Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2019/20 Annual Statistical Bulletin

Date published: 02 July 2020

Planning statistics for 2019/20 are now available.

DRD statistics publication

These data provide an overall view of planning activity.  Alongside this there is a summary of council performance across the three statutory targets for major development applications, local development applications and enforcement cases as laid out in the Local Government (Performance Indicators and Standards) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015.

The publication is available on the Department for Infrastructure website at:

Key points:

The key points from the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics 2019/20 Annual Statistical Bulletin are:

There were 12,207 planning applications received during 2019/20; a decrease of nearly 3% from the previous financial year. This comprised 12,058 local and 149 major applications.

During 2019/20, 11,747 planning applications were decided upon; a decrease of over 3% from the previous financial year. Decisions were issued on 11,616 local, 129 major and two regionally significant planning applications during 2019/20.

In 2019/20 it took, on average, 14.0 weeks to process local applications to decision or withdrawal across all councils. This was within the 15 week target and represented an improvement of 0.8 weeks from the previous financial year. Individually, seven of the 11 councils met the 15 week target in 2019/20.

The average processing time for major applications brought to a decision or withdrawal during 2019/20 was 52.8 weeks across all councils. This represents an improvement of 6.2 weeks from the previous financial year, but is still considerably higher than the 30 week target. Individually, two councils met the 30 week target in 2019/20.

Across councils, over four-fifths (81.4%) of enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks during 2019/20. This meets the statutory target of 70% and is similar to the rate reported for the previous financial year (81.0%). Individually, 10 of the 11 councils met the target in 2019/20.

Notes to editors: 

Background to Northern Ireland Planning Statistics 2019/20 Annual Statistical Bulletin.

  1. This is the latest in a regular series of statistical bulletins related to Development Management (Planning) functions. The Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 sets out the legislative framework for development management and provides that, from 1 April 2015, councils now largely have responsibility for this planning function. This is the fifth annual statistical bulletin to report on activity and performance since the transfer of planning functions occurred.  This statistical bulletin reports on activity and performance in 2019/20 (1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020) with comparisons provided for the previous year.
  2. A new classification hierarchy for planning applications came into effect on 1 April 2014 in advance of the transfer of planning functions to local government from 1 April 2015. The development categories are – major and local development applications, processed primarily by councils, and regionally significant development applications, processed within the Department for Infrastructure. Note that the ‘major development’ category is based on a completely different definition to the previous ‘major’ category so figures relating to this category should not be compared with those from earlier bulletins (i.e. pre-2014/15).
  3. There are three legislative performance targets covered in the report related to the processing of local development decisions within an average of 15 weeks; major development decisions within an average of 30 weeks; and processing 70% of enforcement cases to target conclusion within 39 weeks.
  4. The final records of all applications from 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020 were transferred in May 2020 from a live database and inspected for consistency in coding before figures were prepared for publication.  These annual figures are now regarded as ‘final’ and will not be subject to further scheduled revisions.
  5. Quarterly data are provided in more detailed accompanying Excel tables together with comparable data from the previous financial year, where possible.  The quarterly figures for the 2019/20 year are now final and will not be subject to further scheduled revision.
  6. Electronic copies of the Bulletin, associated Excel tables and summary infographic are available free of charge from:

Official Statistics

This is an Official Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice at: 

Additional Information

For more information relating to this publication, including additional analysis, breakdowns of data, or alternative formats please contact:

Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch
Room 4.13c,
Clarence Court,
10 - 18 Adelaide Street,
Town Parks

ASRB advise customers to make contact through email or by telephone at this time.

For media enquiries please contact the DfI Press Office 028 9054 0007.

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