Mallon extends temporary changes to major planning application process

Date published: 24 September 2021

The temporary suspension of the requirement to hold a public event as part of pre-application community consultation on major planning applications has been extended for a further six months.

Applicants will however still need to comply with other requirements to ensure communities are aware of and can input to major development proposals for their areas.

Announcing the extension Minister Mallon said:

“I have acted to introduce legislation today to further extend the temporary suspension of the requirement to hold a public event as part of pre-application community consultation on major planning application until 31 March 2022.

“While we continue to recover from the covid crisis I am not convinced that now is the right time to remove the temporary suspension. Doing so now could lead to less community engagement as many members of the public may not have confidence attending indoor public events and applicants may find it difficult to comply with the risk assessment requirements of the guidance.

“Public participation however remains an important part of the planning process. To ensure that this is not compromised the published advice and guidance on appropriate measures to replace face to face public events, such as on-line engagement will remain in place.  This will ensure that pre-application public participation in the planning process can continue across the 11 Council areas.

“However, this does not prohibit developers, if they considered it appropriate and beneficial, to voluntarily hold a public event as part of the pre-application community consultation, provided they comply with the health regulations

“This is an essential step that will continue to facilitate major and regionally significant planning applications across the region. If legislation is not implemented this may result in the application process being invalid, leading to a backlog of major applications which would hinder our economic recovery once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

The Minister concluded:

“The planning system will play a critical role in the covid recovery process and my  Department will continue to work closely with other jurisdictions, councils and stakeholders as we move towards recovery from this pandemic. “

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Planning (Development Management) (Temporary Modifications) (Coronavirus) (Amendment No.2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 will temporarily amend the Planning (Development Management) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 and come into operation on 1 October 2021.
  2. The amendment will apply to proposal of application notices submitted to councils before or during the defined emergency period.
  3. The published guidance for applicants suggesting alternatives to this important element of the consultation process will remain in place.
  4. Health advice and information on government services is available at: www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus and www.nidirect.gov.uk/coronavirus .
  5. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at press.office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk  Out of hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure.

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