Publication of Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: Second Quarter 2016/17 Statistical Bulletin

Date published: 15 December 2016

Provisional planning statistics for the second quarter of 2016/17 are now available.

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

These data provide an overall view of planning activity across the north of Ireland.  Alongside this there is a summary of council progress 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:


  • There were 3,058 planning applications received in the north of Ireland during July to September 2016 (Q2), a decrease of 11% over the previous quarter but up by 5% on the same quarter in 2015/16.These comprised 3,021 local development and 37 major development applications. No new regionally significant development applications were received in the second quarter.
  • During Q2, 3,324 planning applications were decided, this was down by nearly 5% over the latest quarter but up by almost one-fifth (19%) on the previous year.Since the final quarter of 2015/16, the number of applications decided has exceeded the number of applications being received.
  • The average processing time for major applications during the first six months of the year was just above 70 weeks across all councils; up significantly from the 40 weeks reported for the equivalent six month period in the previous year. This is currently over forty weeks longer than the statutory processing time target of 30 weeks.
  • The total number of local planning applications received during Q2 2016/17 was 3,021, an increase of nearly 4% on the same period last year. Across councils, Belfast City (471), Causeway Coast and Glens (329) and Newry, Mourne and Down (324) received the highest number of such applications during Q2.
  • Across councils, it took on average around 16 weeks to process local applications to decision or withdrawal during the first six months of 2016, an improvement of more than 2 weeks on the same period last year.The shortest average processing time during this period was below 9 weeks in Mid and East Antrim whilst the longest was 24 weeks in Newry, Mourne and Down but whose processing performance continues to improve.Six of the 11 councils were within the 15 week target during the first six months of 2016.
  • The total number of enforcement cases opened during Q2 2016/17 was 880, an increase of nearly 19% on the same period last year. This is the highest number of enforcement cases opened in this quarter since the start of the reported series in 2009/10.Across councils, Causeway Coast and Glens (156), Antrim and Newtownabbey (137) and Belfast City (125) opened the largest number of enforcement cases during the quarter.
  • During April to September 2016, around four in every five (81%) enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks, which was over 11 percentage points above the statutory target and an improvement of more than 5 percentage points on the equivalent 6 month period last year.Ten of the eleven councils are on track to meet the target with highs of 94% concluded within 39 weeks in Antrim and Newtownabbey and 90% in Mid and East Antrim.
  • The overall approval rate for all planning applications for the quarter was 93%, just over 1 percentage point lower than the rate a year earlier.Second quarter approval rates varied across councils from nearly 100% in Mid Ulster to 89% in Derry City and Strabane.
  • The number of renewable energy applications received was the lowest second quarter figure in over ten years (since 2004/05).Of the 18 applications received in this quarter, over half were for single wind turbines.During the first six months of 2016/17, the average processing time was nearly 60 weeks across all councils, over 15 weeks longer than the equivalent period last year.

Notes to editors: 

  1. This is the latest in a regular series of statistical bulletins related to Development Management (Planning) functions in the north of Ireland. 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 the second quarter of 2016/17 (1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016). Year-to-date processing performance for the full 6 month period (1 April to 30 September 2016) is also provided.
  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 (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 2016 to 30 September 2016 were transferred in November 2016 from a live database and inspected for consistency in coding before figures were prepared for publication. These figures are regarded as ‘provisional’ and will therefore be subject to further scheduled revisions as further updates are made to records in the live database environment.
  5. Quarterly data are provided in more detailed accompanying Excel tables together with comparable data from the previous financial year, where possible. Electronic copies of the Bulletin, associated Excel tables and summary infographic are available free of charge from:
  1. 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:
  1. Further Information
    For further information please contact:
Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch
Department for Infrastructure
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8GB
  1. 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 via pager number 07623 974 373 and your call will be returned.

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