Community involvement

Community involvement is part of the planning process. By getting involved, you could help shape how your local area grows and develops.

Statement of Community Involvement

Each council must publish a Statement of Community Involvement. This sets out when and how the council should consult the community about planning applications and planning policy. 

Community involvement in planning

There are five ways you can get involved:

  • making representations on planning applications
  • making representations on planning appeals
  • participating in the preparation of development plans and strategies
  • participating in the preparation of other policy documents or guidance
  • reporting breaches of planning control

Advertising a planning application

When the council receives a planning application, they advertise this in at least one local newspaper.  The planning application notice will give the deadline for making representations on the application to your local planning office.

Neighbour notification about a planning application

The council writes and invites comments from:

  • people  occupying buildings on land adjoining the application site boundary
  • people within 90 metres of the application site

Area planning offices

The public can inspect a planning application at the local area planning office, and see maps and the architect's drawings. Before visiting, contact the office to check if you need to make an appointment. 

Making representations on planning appeals

There is no third party right of appeal in Northern Ireland. This means that objectors or other parties with an interest in the proposal cannot appeal if they are unhappy about the decision.

If an applicant was refused planning permission or served with an enforcement notice and they appeal the decision, anyone who lives near the appeal site, or has an interest in the appeal,  can get involved in the appeal process.

Community involvement in Development Plans

You can get involved individually or as part of a community or interest group in the preparation of a development plan for your area at various stages by:

  • submitting written comments at the outset of the plan
  • submitting written comments following publication of the Prefered Options Paper (a strategic document designed to stimulate debate on key issues) or attending a consultation event held at this stage
  • submitting written comments or an objection following publication of the draft Plan Strategy and draft Local Policies Plan
  • participating in the independent examination into the plan

Participating in the development of policy and guidance

The Department for Infrastructure will invite comments on draft planning legislation, policy and guidance through public consultation. They advertise consultations on the Planning NI website.

Reporting breaches of planning controls

You should report a breach of planning control to your local area planning office. You can do this in person, by telephone or email.

Planning advice for communities and individuals

Community Places provides free, independent advice and information on planning issues for community groups and individuals who cannot afford to employ a private consultant.

You can get advice about: 

  • planning applications
  • understanding planning applications
  • objecting to applications
  • how decisions are made
  • complaints and appeals procedures
  • Community Places website
Community Places
2 Downshire Place
Great Victoria Street
Belfast
BT2 7JQ

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