Today Belfast City Council set out the requirements relating to Community Consultation for all ‘major’ planning applications submitted under the new devolved planning powers.

During a presentation to Belfast’s town planning community, Belfast Area Planning Manager, Clifford McIlwaine outlined the requirements for a 12 week Planning Application Notice (PAN), after which applications are submitted for consideration and approval by the 14 strong Planning Committee made up from within the 60 elected councillors.

“Under devloved powers, councillors will be publicly and legally responsible for planning decisions.”

Kate Mullen – Shadow Planning Committee Chair

After submission of a PAN, the applicants for all major developments will be required to carry out community consultation on any proposed scheme prior to submission. A Community Engagement Report  to outline what community consultation has taken place, and how the results of that community consultation have been considered within the proposals must then be included. These measures will apply equally to all councils within Northern Ireland.

The details of what constitutes a major application, or the specifics of what Belfast City Council will require to be undertaken to fulfill this requirement have not yet been made public, but details are sure to emerge in the coming weeks.

Belfast City Council Chief Executive Suzanne Wylie proposed the formation of a focus group fromed from members of the town planning communtiy and other stakeholders to review the processes and provide feedback.

“This is the start of a new relationship.”

Suzanne Wylie – Belfast City Council Chief Executive

Clifford McIlwaine also confirmed that the popular Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) process will remain, but also confirmed that the much hated ‘call back’ NI direct switchboard, which professionals had hoped would be scapped, is set to remain for the forseeable future.

Powers for delegation of local decisions were outlined along with powers for the DOE to ‘call in’ applications where local coucils were unable to make an unbiased determination.

It was also confirmed that Neighbourhood Notification will no longer be discretionary and will now be a statutory requirement.

The new planning powers come into effect on 1st April 2015.

Contact C60 Town Planners if you need any advice in relation to how the new powers could affect your current or future applications.