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

Date published: 21 March 2019

Provisional planning statistics for the third quarter of 2018/19 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.

Statistical press release

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

Key points

The key points from the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics Third Quarter 2018/19 Statistical Bulletin are:

  • There were 3,204 planning applications received during October to December 2018 (Q3), up by 9% on the previous quarter, but down by 2% on the same period a year earlier.  This comprised 3,158 local and 46 major applications.
  • During the third quarter of 2018/19, 2,988 planning applications were decided, a decrease of almost 3% over both the quarter and the year.
  • In the first nine months of 2018/19 it took councils, on average, 15 weeks to process local applications to decision or withdrawal; the same as the figure reported for the equivalent period last year. Four of the 11 councils were within the 15 week target after three quarters of 2018/19.
  • The average processing time for major applications during the first nine months of 2018/19 was almost 58 weeks across all councils; up from just over 50 weeks reported for the same period the previous year. This was almost double the statutory processing time target of 30 weeks. The majority of councils did not process a large number of major applications during the first three quarters of 2018/19. Nonetheless, four councils were within the 30 week target at the end of this period.
  • In the first nine months of 2018/19 over four-fifths (82%) of enforcement cases were concluded within 39 weeks. This is 12 percentage points above the statutory target and is five percentage points higher than the figure reported for the same period a year earlier (77%).  After three quarters of 2018/19, nine of the 11 councils are on track to meet the target, with highs of 93% concluded within 39 weeks in Antrim and Newtownabbey, and 88% in Mid and East Antrim.

Notes to editors: 

Background to Northern Ireland Planning Statistics Third 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 third quarter of 2018/19 (1 October 2018 – 31 December 2018). Year-to-date processing performance for the full nine month period (1 April 2018 – 31 December 2018) 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 (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 – 31 December 2018 were transferred in February 2019 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 June / July 2019.
  5. Quarterly data are provided in more detailed accompanying Excel tables together with comparable data from the previous financial year, where possible.
  6. Electronic copies of the Bulletin, associated Excel tables and summary infographic are available free of charge from: www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/articles/planning-activity-statistics

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: www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html

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, Belfast, BT2 8GB     

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

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