Belfast Telegraph

One third of Northern Ireland planning application refusals reversed: report

PAC says it's faced 'significant challenges' over the last year

By John Mulgrew

Around one-third of rejected planning applications have their decision overturned and get the green light on appeal, a new report has shown.

The Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) said it received 305 appeals during 2016/17.

It said it was dealing with the appeals amid "significant challenges having to operate within an environment of reduced resources and personnel changes".

This year, it has dealt with some of Northern Ireland's biggest infrastructure appeals, including the controversial North-South Interconnector electricity scheme.

The PAC deals with applications from the very small, to major plans for entire housing or office developments, which have been turned down by the local planning authorities.

And the latest figures show a marked rise in the number of appeals for housing developments and single homes across Northern Ireland.

The number of single properties and multiple home development appeals brought in 2016/17 increased by almost 14%.

The body, which also includes the Water Appeals Commission, dealt with 349 cases with 304 decisions, and 45 appeals being withdrawn or declared invalid.

"The success rate at appeal is currently 28%, a reduction on the previous year," it said.

"Despite having the longest median time for decision, hearings continue to be the main method of processing of appeal case work."

It has also dealt with some of Northern Ireland's biggest infrastructure projects in the last year.

That includes a huge cross-border electricity scheme, the North-South Interconnector. It is due to make a recommendation later this year.

"There has been a significant reduction in median times for decisions, falling from 29 weeks to 23 weeks," the PAC stated.

It said its key achievements this year included a reduction in the number of cases that had been in the system for a long period of time, streamlining of the allocations process, and a new case management system.

Its chief commissioner Andrea Kells commented: "These achievements were made in a year where the commissions have faced significant challenges having to operate within an environment of reduced resources and personnel changes."

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

Popular