Planning decisions

Local councils are responsible for most planning decisions. Each council has a planning committee and planning officers to make decisions about local and major applications. The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) makes decisions about planning applications that are iregionally important and could affect many people.

Shared responsibility

The responsibility for planning is now shared by local councils and the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

Councils are responsible for:

  • local development planning – creating a plan which sets out 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 – deciding most planning applications
  • planning enforcement – investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining what action to take

DfI Planning is responsible for:

  • deciding regionally significant applications and 'called-in' applications
  • regional planning policy
  • planning legislation
  • Regional Development Strategy (RDS);
  • oversight and guidance for councils
  • performance management
  • Crumlin Road Gaol and St Lucia Barracks

Statement of Community Involvement

Each council needs a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). This explains how and when a local council must consult the community about planning policy and applications.

Before making a major planning application, you need to do a pre-application community consultation.

Types of planning applications

Planning applications are categorised as local, major or regionally significant. Councils are responsible for deciding all local and major applications.

Planning committee

Each council has a planning committee and follows a Scheme of Delegation. This scheme sets out:

  • planning applications to be decided by the committee
  • planning applications to be delegated to planning officers

The committee will decide applications for large developments, contentious applications and those that receive objections.

Planning applications and planning queries

Planners in the local council's planning office can answer queries about the planning process and planning applications.

Each council has a planning office  where you can contact planners. 

Making decisions about local planning 

With councils responsible for local planning, they can:

  • make local decisions on how the area should grow and develop
  • meet community needs of local people and business to help create jobs and economic growth
  • involve the community by discussing plans and planning applications with local communities, groups, organisations and business

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