Local Development Plans and Applicability of Planning Policy
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Belfast City Council have now formally adopted their Local Development Plan Strategy (“PS”) in accordance with section 12 of the Planning (Northern Ireland) Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”).
The adoption of the PS not only has implications for new planning applications submitted after the date in which the PS was adopted but it also has implications for applications which were submitted prior to adoption of the PS which remain under consideration by the Council or the Department.
The PS now has primacy in the decision-making process and all planning decisions must be made in accordance with the PS, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. This includes planning applications submitted prior to the adoption of the PS which haven’t been determined yet. In such applications, additional information will need to be submitted by the planning applicant to demonstrate that the application complies with the PS.
This is not the only change to planning policy. Whilst the Departmental Development Plans (“DPPs”) remain in effect until the Council adopts the Local Policies Plan (“LPP”) at the next stage of the process, the Planning Policy Statements retained under transitional arrangements cease to have effect from the date in which the PS takes effect. Certain designations from DPPs will apply to policies contained within the PS and it may lead to conflicts between the policy contained in DPPs and the PS which will be resolved in favour of the PS.
Depending on the nature of the application, a significant amount of additional work may be required by planning applicants and the Council/ Department. Some schemes may require amendments to meet the new policy requirements which will result in the need for re-advertisement and re-consultation with consultees.
There is no doubt that this will lead to delays in the decision-making process and we may see an increase in legal challenges relating to the application of policy.
It is important to be aware that there will be further policy changes once the Council’s reach the next stage of the Local Development Plan process i.e. adoption of the LPP.
If you would like further information on the impact of the policy changes on your application, or Planning and Environmental Law generally, please contact Orla Kelly, or another member of the team.
**This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.