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How Planning Works


Planning makes sure the right things are built in the right places, be it houses, shops, parks, community centres or energy plants. But it is also about the ability to shape and change the character, look and feel of the places where we live, work or visit. Responsibility for planning in Northern Ireland is shared between the 11 local councils and the Department for Infrastructure.

What are the Council’s Responsibilities?

  • Local development planning – creating a plan which will set out a clear vision of how the council area should look in the future by deciding what type and scale of development should be encouraged and where it should be located;
  • Development management – determining the vast majority of planning applications;
  • Planning enforcement – investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining what action should be taken.

What are the Department for Infrastructures Responsibilities?

  • Determination of regionally significant and ‘called-in’ planning applications;
  • Regional Development Strategy (RDS);
  • Regional planning policy;
  • Planning legislation;
  • Performance management;
  • Oversight and guidance for councils;

The majority of queries relating to the planning process and planning applications should be directed to your local council’s planning office where experienced officers will be able to advise you.