Council’s planning process ‘most efficient’

Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Anne Donaghy and Mayor Paul Reid.
Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Anne Donaghy and Mayor Paul Reid.

Planning decisions in Mid and East Antrim are made in less time than anywhere else in Northern Ireland, recently published figures show.

Statistics released by the Department for Infrastructure show Mid and East Antrim to have the shortest turnaround time for local applications out of all 11 local authorities, at just 9.8 weeks.

That is well below the 15.4 week Northern Ireland average and compares to one council’s processing time of almost 24 weeks for a decision or withdrawal.

Just five of Northern Ireland’s 11 Councils were within the Department’s 15-week target at the end of June 2017.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Paul Reid, welcomed the latest statistics.

He said: “Congratulations to our Planning Committee and Council Officers, who continue to set the standard when it comes to planning.

“They have excelled in terms of local government planning reform and are consistency delivering efficiency improvements to the applications process.

“Mid and East Antrim has cleared all but one of its backlog of legacy Council planning applications and has again secured the quickest turnaround time for planning applications of all Northern Ireland’s councils.

“As a Council, we are passionate about sustaining, protecting and enhancing our natural environment, safeguarding our built heritage, driving retail growth and addressing our housing needs.”

The Northern Ireland Planning First Quarter 2017/18 Statistical Bulletin showed there were 3,337 planning applications received in the region during April to June 2017, similar to the previous quarter (3,346), but down 3% on the same period a year earlier.

During the first quarter of 2017/18, 3,301 planning applications were decided – an increase of nearly 2% over the quarter, but a decrease of almost 6% compared to same period a year earlier.

The recently released figures also showed Mid and East Antrim had the lowest proportion of planning cases over one year old, at just 5.1%, compared to the Northern Ireland average of 17.5%.

The percentage of enforcement cases processed within 39 weeks in the Borough was 87.9% – well above the 70% target – another factor driving the pro-business environment in the Borough.

The council decided on 211 cases in the three-month timeframe outlined.

In recent months the council also launched its first Preferred Options Paper, marking a key milestone in Council’s ongoing work towards the formation of the Local Development Plan, which will inform all planning decisions throughout Mid and East Antrim until 2030.

The Local Development Plan focuses on Mid and East Antrim’s ability to deliver development to meet our economic and social needs without compromising the quality of our environment.

Under local government reform, planning – which was previously delivered through the Department of Environment – transferred to Northern Ireland councils in 2015.