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Belfast is first NI council to have Local Development Plan go forward for independent examination

16 Dec 2019

Belfast City Council has become the first local authority in Northern Ireland to have its Local Development Plan (LDP) passed to the Planning Appeals Commission for them to consider it for independent examination; an important step towards the council adopting its own growth strategy and planning policies for the city.

The LDP is the land use plan for Belfast up to 2035. It will guide investment, set out policies and proposals for the use, development and protection of land across the city, and once adopted, will be used to determine planning applications.

Chair of Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee, Councillor Arder Carson said: “We’re very pleased that the Department for Infrastructure has put our Local Development Plan forward to the next stage. It’s a significant milestone for Belfast – the LDP will shape how the city develops. It’s going to support our Belfast Agenda ambitions and the crucial role we’ll play in helping to sustainably develop the wider regional economy over the next 15 years.


“We’ve had responsibility for determining the outcome of planning applications since the transfer of planning powers in April 2015 – from domestic extensions through to major urban redevelopment schemes. It’s time for the policies that we base our decisions on to be updated, so that they place communities at the heart of the planning process, they’re tailored to the needs of our evolving city and they allow for speedier decision making.”

Work on the LDP started in 2017, when the council consulted widely on its Preferred Options Paper, which set out a series of options for dealing with key issues facing Belfast up to 2035 and beyond.

The consultation feedback was used to inform further refinements and the draft Plan Strategy was published in August 2018 as the first step towards establishing a planning policy framework to respond to the social, environmental and economic issues facing Belfast. 

A further consultation, on the representations received, closed in April 2019. In August, the council submitted the Plan Strategy along with all supporting documents and consultation response to the Department of Infrastructure for their consideration.

The council is now looking forward to working with the Planning Appeals Commission to confirm a timetable for the formal Independent Examination. During this process the council will also be considering the implications for the next stage of the plan development and the ongoing work that will focus on the local policies, including site specific proposals and potential designations. 

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