Understanding the new Belfast Planning Application process – White Ink can help

Belfast Planning Service have recently launched Phase 2 of their Application Checklist initiative – to include applications for Major development. This relates to residential schemes of 10 units or more, commercial proposals of 1,000 sqm or greater and sites of 0.5 ha and above.

‘Front-loading’: The Application Checklist initiative, Phase 1 of which was launched in January 2019, places greater emphasis on the ‘front-loading’ of the planning application process in order to enable more timely decision making. In addition to the ‘Basic Requirements’ (application form, site location plan etc.) for the submission of an application, the Planning Service is now seeking the submission of all relevant ‘Other Supporting Information’ at the same time. This means that a potentially vast volume of information now needs to be submitted at the outset of the application process.

Greater collaboration: In a welcome move towards greater collaboration, the initiative also sees Planners committing to working with applicants to resolve problems at an early stage. Planners will check the submitted information and applicants will be advised of any material that is deemed to be missing from the application. The applicant will then have 14 days to provide this information. In a positive change to the application validation process, if missing information is not provided within the 14 days, the application and the application fee will be returned to the applicant rather than being refused and the fee lost.

Communication: As with any successful collaboration, a two-way commitment is required. The Planning Service are therefore appealing to applicants to not only avail of the Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) service but to properly conclude the process and heed the resulting advice in order to expedite the ensuing application process. Applicants are further advised not to ‘drip-feed’ information, either at the PAD or application stage and to avoid significant revisions to proposals during the life of an application.

White Ink Architects welcomes this initiative as a step towards a more coherent, streamlined and collaborative planning process for our city and is eager to see the impact it has on speeding the decision-making process. Contact us if you need help with a Pre-Application Discussion or the submission of a planning application for a Major development in the Belfast area or read more on how we can help.

The Application Checklist and more information on submitting a planning application under the new initiative can be found on the Belfast City Council website.