Many small shop and office owners will no longer have to seek official permission to extend their properties as part of new measures to speed up the planning process in Northern Ireland.
Applicants will also have less paperwork to do and demolition controls are to be tightened, Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced.
He pledged to introduce further new moves to cut back on red tape, heighten efficiency and reduce costs - while protecting and enhancing the environment.
Mr Attwood said: "Increasing the range of development that no longer needs planning permission will make it easier for owners of shops and offices to undertake minor building works such as small extensions to their property.
"Importantly, these new rules strike a balance between freeing businesses to make improvements and limiting the size of an extension so that neighbours are protected.
"It is important to point out that larger, more intrusive extensions will still require full planning permission."
New planning control arrangements and guidance are also being introduced to cover the demolition of buildings which can have a significant impact on the environment.
Mr Attwood added: "These measures, along with changes to the type of developments that can be undertaken without planning permission for industrial and warehouse buildings, schools, colleges, universities and hospitals, will contribute to reducing red tape and remove an unnecessary burden from the planning system."