The Department’s planning functions include determining regionally significant and “called-in” planning applications; developing regional planning policy and legislation; and providing oversight and guidance for councils, including assistance with performance management.

Responsibility for planning in Northern Ireland is shared between the 11 local councils and the Department for Infrastructure (the Department).

The 11 councils are responsible for:

  • Local development planning – creating a plan which will set out a clear vision of how the council area should look in the future by deciding what type and scale of development should be encouraged and where it should be located;
  • Development management – determining the vast majority of planning applications;
  • Planning enforcement – investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining what action should be taken.

The Department is responsible for:

  • Determination of regionally significant and ‘called-in’ planning applications;
  • Regional Development Strategy (RDS);
  • Regional planning policy;
  • Planning legislation;
  • Performance management and continuous improvement;
  • Oversight and guidance for councils;

The Department’s Planning functions are split between two divisions - the Strategic Planning Division and Planning Policy Division.

Strategic Planning Division

The Strategic Planning Division is responsible for processing planning applications deemed to be of regional significance or those which may be ‘called in’ from the local councils. In addition, the Division carries out an operational oversight and plan scrutiny role to support local councils in delivering their planning functions, particularly the local development plan process.  

Planning Policy Division

The Planning Policy Division develops planning legislation and policy in line with Ministerial direction as well as providing advice and guidance on design, policy and practice. The Division is also responsible for the review, monitoring and implementation of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) 2035 which was published in March 2012.  In addition, the Division assists local councils with monitoring performance and developing continuous improvement initiatives.

For further information you can visit the dedicated PlanningNI website


The majority of queries relating to the planning process and planning applications should be directed to your local council’s planning office where experienced officers will be able to advise you.

Enquiries about planning applications being processed by the Department or on the progress of new Departmental policies or initiatives should be addressed to:

DfI Planning
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street


DfI Chief Planner’s Office
Ebrington Square
BT47 6FA                                       

Crumlin Road Gaol

Since 2003 Government has invested over £17million to re-establish these iconic buildings as a highly significant public asset for Belfast. The restoration work has helped to promote and raise the profile of the Gaol as a key driver to maximise economic, cultural and community benefits to North Belfast and beyond.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) will soon be offering a unique opportunity to share in realising the potential for the Crumlin Road Gaol site through the development of vacant buildings by lease agreement. The Cottages, D Wing, the Hospital and Dental Unit will soon be available for development. 


Related to Planning

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for Infrastructure including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme.

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