Publication of Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: First Quarter 2018/19 Statistical Bulletin

Date published: 20 September 2018

Provisional planning statistics for the first quarter of 2018/19 are now available.

Statistical press release

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:

  • There were 3,254 planning applications received during April to June 2018 (Q1), up by 4% on previous quarter, but down by 2% on the same period a year earlier. This comprised 3,217 local and 37 major applications.
  • During the first quarter of 2018/19, 3,002 planning applications were decided, an increase of more than 6% over the quarter but a decrease of over 9% when compared to the same period a year earlier.  
  • The average processing time for major applications during Q1 was 68 weeks across all councils; an increase of nearly seven weeks from the 61 weeks reported for the first quarter last year.  This is more than double the statutory processing time target of 30 weeks. 
  • The number of local planning applications received during Q1 2018/19 was 3,217, down slightly when compared to the number received in the same quarter last year but up by 4% on the previous quarter.  Across councils, Belfast City (500), Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (356) and Newry, Mourne and Down (351) received the highest number of local planning applications during Q1.  These councils also received the highest number of applications in the same quarter the previous year.
  • Across councils it took, on average, just over 15 weeks to process local applications to decision or withdrawal, similar to the average time taken in the same period last year.  Five of the eleven councils were within the 15 week target during the first three months of 2018/19. The shortest average processing time for local applications was just over six weeks in Mid and East Antrim, whilst the longest was nearly 24 weeks in Causeway Coast and Glens.
  • The number of enforcement cases opened during Q1 was 939, an increase of 12% compared to the same period a year earlier. Across the councils, Newry, Mourne and Down (148) and Belfast City (127) opened the largest number of cases in Q1. 
  • In the first three months of 2018/19, nearly four fifths (79%) of enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks. This is nine percentage points above the statutory target and is two percentage points higher than the same period last year.  Nine of the eleven councils are on track to meet the target with highs of 89% concluded within 39 weeks in Antrim and Newtownabbey followed by Mid and East Antrim and Fermanagh and Omagh (both 88%). The proportion of enforcement cases concluded ranged from a high of 89% to a low of 45%.
  • The approval rate for all planning applications for the quarter was 94%, similar to the rate for the previous quarter and for the same quarter a year earlier.  First quarter approval rates varied across councils from 87% to 98%.   
  • There were 17 renewable energy applications received in Q1 2018/19, four more than the same period last year.  During Q1 15 renewable applications were decided and four withdrawn.  The average processing time for these applications was almost 108 weeks.

Notes to editors: 

Background to Northern Ireland Planning Statistics First Quarter 2018/19 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 statistical bulletin reports on activity and performance for first quarter of 2018/19 (1 April 2018 – 30 June 2018).

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 by councils, and regionally significant development applications processed within the Department. 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 2018 – 30 June 2018 were transferred in July 2018 from a live database and inspected for consistency in coding before figures were prepared for publication. These figures are regarded as ‘provisional’ and will be subject to further scheduled revisions as further updates are made to records in the live database environment.  Finalised annual figures for 2018/19 will be released at the end of June 2019.

Quarterly data are provided in more detailed accompanying Excel tables together with comparable data from the previous financial year, where possible.

5.  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 Official Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice at:

Further Information

For further information please contact:
Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch
Department for Infrastructure
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8GB

Tel (press enquiries): 028 9054 0007
Tel (public enquiries): 028 9054 0390
(Text relay prefix 18001)

6. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office on 028 9054 0007 or email: Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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