Muir terms response times for planning applications as ‘woeful’

Alliance Infrastructure Spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA described as “totally unacceptable” the news that last year only 31 percent of DFI Rivers responses to planning applications were on time.

Statutory Consultees are required to respond to planning application consultations within 21 days. In response to a question from Mr Muir, the Department for Infrastructure (DFI) revealed that last year only 31 percent of DFI Rivers 2,239 responses were within that 21 day limit.

Other consultees performed better, but still with a relatively high rate of late responses. DFI Roads responded to 73 percent of its over 10,000 consultations on time, and the Historic Environment Division responded to 72 percent of its consultations on time.

Speaking at Stormont today, Mr Muir said: “For many years the planning system in Northern Ireland has been far too slow. On average, major planning applications take a year to be decided, and some regionally significant applications have been in the system for well over a decade. A dysfunctional planning system is a big barrier to economic growth and investment in Northern Ireland.

“The statistics from the Department for Infrastructure confirm that the response times of statutory consultees are a big part of the problem. I understand that the Planning Forum has recently conducted a review into what is going wrong at DFI Rivers, and the findings of that review should be published. The department recently announced an overall review of the planning system. It is essential that this review gets to the bottom of why statutory consultee responses are so late, so often.”