First quarter increase in planning applications

First quarter increase in planning applications

The provisional Northern Ireland Planning Development Management Statistics April - June 2014 is published today.

The report shows the first quarter-on-quarter increase in planning applications received since quarter three 2009/10, and is the highest number of planning applications received in quarter one since 2011/12. However, while some of this increase may be attributable to improving economic conditions, it may also partially reflect a surge in applications in advance of Planning fee increases which came into force on the 28th May 2014. DOE Planning received 3,378 planning applications in the first quarter of 2014/15, a 13% increase in the number received in the same quarter in 2013/14 (2,997). In contrast, the number of DOE Planning decisions issued during the first quarter fell by 3% from 2,825 last year to 2,730 in the current year. This represents the lowest number of cases processed to decision in any quarter over the last seven years. Despite the general increase in planning applications, the number related to renewable energy (121) dropped by almost half (49%) in comparison to the same quarter in 2013/14 (238). This was predominately due to a large reduction in single wind turbine applications, which accounted for around four in every five (83%) first quarter renewable energy application, but which themselves reduced by approaching half (45%) compared to the same period last year. The key points to note in the bulletin are: 1. Applications received · In the first quarter 2014/15, DOE Planning received 3,378 planning applications, the highest first quarter number since 2011/12 (3,864) and a 13% increase on the number received in the same period in 2013/14 (2,997). · Over three quarters of applications received (77%) were for full planning permission, four percentage points lower than for the same period last year (81%). · Applications for residential development have increased by one fifth, from 1,644 in the first quarter of 2013/14 to 1,967 in the equivalent quarter 2014/15. This represents the first quarterly increase for residential applications, since quarter two in 2008/09. 2. Applications decided · DOE Planning issued decisions on 2,730 applications in the first quarter of 2014/15, a decrease of 3% compared to the same quarter in 2013/14 (2,825). · The number of decisions issued for full planning permission made up four fifths (80%) of all decisions issued during the first quarter of 2014/15 (2,183), one percentage point higher than the same period last year (79%). 3. Applications approved · Overall, 95% of decisions issued for planning applications in the first quarter of 2014/15 were approved, the same percentage as for the equivalent quarter in 2013/14. 4. Applications received for residential development · Almost three in every five applications received by the Department in the first quarter of 2014/15 (58%) were for residential development (1,967). Three percentage points higher than for the same period in 2013/14 (55%). · In urban areas, the number of residential applications decreased by 5% from 790 to 753 during the first quarter of 2013/14 compared to the same quarter 2014/15. · The number of residential applications in rural areas increased markedly, by 42%, in the equivalent quarters, from 854 (2013/14) to 1,214 (2014/15). Interestingly, rural areas make up the majority (62%) of all residential applications. 5. Applications decided for residential development · In urban areas, the number of decisions fell by 13%, from 682 in quarter one 2013/14 to 595 in the same quarter 2014/15; while in rural areas the fall was minimal at 1% from 897 to 892 across the same time period. 6. Renewable energy applications · Renewable energy applications include wind turbines, wind farms, solar panels, biomass burners, hydroelectric schemes etc. · Interestingly, the number of renewable planning applications received in quarter one 2014/15 (121) dropped by almost half (49%) in comparison to the same quarter 2013/14 (238). · This is predominately due to a reduction in single wind turbine applications which accounted for over four fifths (83%) of all renewable energy applications in the first quarter 2014/15 (101 out of 121 renewable energy applications received). · Single wind turbines dropped by 45%, from 185 in quarter one 2013/14, to 101 in the present quarter. · The number of decisions issued against renewable energy applications decreased by a third, from 179 in quarter one 2013/14 to 119 in the present quarter. The vast majority (92%) of renewable energy applications in quarter one 2014/15 were approved, although this is two percentage points lower than in quarter one 2013/14 (94%). 7. Enforcement Statistics · In the first quarter of 2014/15, there were 767 enforcement cases opened and 670 existing cases closed, representing a small increase (3%) in respect of cases opened but a much larger decrease of just over one fifth (21%) in respect of cases closed compared with the same period last year. · The main reason for an enforcement case being closed was because, following investigation, it was deemed that no breach had actually occurred. This accounted for over one third (35%) of closed cases during the first quarter (236). 8. Results for Key Performance Targets · From 2014/15, a new departmental target to reduce the number of live enforcement cases over two years old to 400 by 31st March 2015 was introduced. The number of such cases stood at 759 at end of quarter 1 2014/15, a 6% reduction on the 807 cases recorded at 31st March 2014. · DOE Planning have a key commitment under the Programme for Government to ensure that in 2014/15, 90% of large scale investment (LSI) planning decisions are made within six months and applications with job creation potential are given additional weight. For the first three months of the 2014/15 year, there were 19 LSI applications where a decision was either reached or it was possible for a decision to have been reached within the 6 month processing target. Of these, 18, or 95%, were processed within six months. · The processing target for Local planning applications in 2014/15 is to process them to decision or withdrawal in an average of 15 weeks. In the first quarter 2014/15, the average processing time for local planning applications was 13 weeks, two weeks lower than the target. · A new departmental target to reduce the number of planning applications over one year old to 650 by 31 March 2015 was introduced this year. At end of quarter one 2014/15, 1,216 live applications were over one year old, a small increase of nine applications on the 2013/14 year end figure of 1,207. 9. Results for operational targets · There are two annual targets for the validation of a planning application. The first is to validate 85% of applications within six days and the second is to validate 95% of applications within 10 days. In the first quarter 2014/15, 94% of planning applications were validated within 6 days and 99% were validated within 10 days. · There are a further two annual targets for the time taken to issue a decision after the last Council consultation. The first is to issue 85% of decisions within two weeks and the second is to issue 95% of decisions within two weeks. In the first quarter 2014/15, 89% of decisions were issued within two weeks of last Council consultation and 95% were issued within four weeks of last Council consultation. · There are two annual operational targets for enforcement activity. The first is for 95% of high priority cases to be discussed and certified within two working weeks. In the first quarter 2014/15, 93% of high priority cases were discussed and certified within two weeks. The second is to process to a conclusion 70% of enforcement cases within 39 weeks. In the first quarter 2014/15, 68% of enforcement cases were brought to a conclusion within this time period.

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