The Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2020/21 Annual Statistical Bulletin published

Date published: 01 July 2021

The Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2020/21 Annual Statistical Bulletin is published today.

Publication of Travel Survey for Northern Ireland 2012-2014 headline report

Planning statistics for 2020/21 are now available.  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: Planning Activity Statistics

Key Points:

The key points from the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics 2020/21 Annual Statistical Bulletin are:

  • Planning activity and processing performance in 2020/21 were impacted by the restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. This should be borne in mind and caution should be taken when interpreting these figures and when making comparisons with other time periods.
  • During 2020/21, 12,833 planning applications were received; a 5% increase from the previous financial year. This comprised 12,709 local, 123 major and one regionally significant application.
  • A total of 10,483 planning applications were decided during 2020/21; a decrease of over one-tenth from the previous financial year. Decisions were issued on 10,357 local, 123 major and three regionally significant applications during 2020/21.
  • The average processing time for local applications brought to a decision or withdrawal during 2020/21 was 17.8 weeks across all councils. This exceeds the 15 week target and represents an increase of 3.8 weeks from the previous financial year. Three of the 11 councils met the 15 week target in 2020/21.
  • The average processing time for major applications brought to a decision or withdrawal during 2020/21 was 61.4 weeks across all councils. This represents an increase of 8.6 weeks compared with the previous financial year and is more than double the 30 week target. None of the 11 councils met the 30 week target in 2020/21.
  • Across councils 69.9% of enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks during 2020/21. This falls just outside the statutory target of 70% and represents a considerable decrease from the rate reported 2019/20 (81.4%). Individually, six of the 11 councils met the target in 2020/21.

Notes to editors: 

  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 sixth 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 2020/21 (1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021) 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 2020 – 31 March 2021 were transferred in April 2021 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 2020/21 year are now final and will not be subject to further scheduled revision.
  6. Following an independent assessment by the UK Statistics Authority, the NI Planning Statistics report received National Statistics accreditation in December 2020, demonstrating that it meets the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.
  7. Electronic copies of the bulletin, associated Excel tables and summary infographic are available free of charge from: Planning Activity Statistics
  8. This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice at: Statistics Authority
  9. 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.

  1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at: 
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow us @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure

Share this page

Back to top