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Applying for planning permission

Major development applications

Major planning applications are a special category of development and include:

  • housing proposals for 50 units or more, or sites of 2 hectares or greater
  • retailing, community, recreation and culture proposals of 1,000 square metres or more outside town centres, or sites of 1 hectare or greater
  • business, industry (light and general), storage and distribution proposals of 5,000 square metres or more, or sites of 1 hectare of greater
  • all other development of 5,000 square metres or more, or sites of 1 hectare or greater.

The full list of Major application types can be found at the website (opens in a new window).

You can also use VU.CITY (opens in a new window) as part of the Pre-Application process.

Pre-Application Community Consultation

If you want to submit a Major application, you must first consult with the community on your proposals before submitting your application.

Twelve weeks before you submit an application, you must submit a Proposal of Application Notice (PAN), indicating how you will carry out consultation before submitting the formal application.

Complete online proposal of application notice

You must also ensure that all consultation events that you hold in relation to your application are advertised in one local newspaper at least seven days in advance of the event.

You can find out more information on pre-application community consultation in our pre-application community consultation process pack.

You can ask for a copy of this document in an alternative format, including PDF, by emailing 

On 15 March 2022, the Department for Infrastructure confirmed that the Planning (Development Management) (Temporary Modifications) (Coronavirus) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 will not be extended beyond 31 March 2022.

This means that for applications for Major development, if a Proposal of Application (PAN) is submitted after 31 March 2022, applicants and developers must hold a public event (with associated advertising) as part of the statutory pre-application community consultation process.

For more information, email

Pre-application Consultation Report

You must submit a Pre-application Consultation Report with your planning application. The report must detail the consultation undertaken and any changes made to the proposal as a result.

The purpose of the report is to confirm that pre-application consultation has taken place in line with statutory minimum requirements and with any further requirements set in response to the proposal of application notice (PAN).

The report should set out what steps were taken to comply with the statutory and PAN requirements. This should include copies of advertisements for the public event(s) and specify who has been consulted and what methods have been used.

It is advisable that the report also includes:

  • reference to, and examples of, material made available at public events
  • response from those consulted and the applicant's consideration of those responses.

The report should also set out to what extent the proposals may have changed because of pre-application consultation.

The report must be made in writing and accompany the Major planning application when submitted. Failure to include a Pre-application Consultation Report with your application will deem it invalid and we won’t be able to deal with it.

The Department for Infrastructure has published guidance (link opens in a new window) on the Pre-application Community Consultation (and Pre-Application Discussions) which can help you create the report.

You can use our Application Checklist to learn more about how to submit your planning application.

Planning Performance Agreements

A Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) is a project management tool which we, as Planning Authority, and applicant can use to agree timescales, actions and resources for handling strategic planning applications. 

It is a voluntary agreement made between us and the applicant prior to the application being submitted and can be a useful focus of Pre-Application Discussions. A PPA is usually agreed in the spirit of a note of understanding and is not a legally binding contract.

A PPA has the following potential benefits:

  • It provides certainty for applicants when the standard determination period is not appropriate.
  • It ensures commitment from all parties to a shared timetable for pre-application, application and discharge of condition stages, as may be agreed.
  • It clarifies the key issues and policy requirements that the application will need to address. 
  • Identifies the type and level of information that will need to be provided with the application, based on our Application Checklist.
  • It creates a development team approach with identified leads for both us and the applicant, and involving key stakeholders to the process including statutory consultees.

A PPA will normally be appropriate for planning applications of a strategic nature such as residential schemes of 100 units or above, or commercial developments of 10,000 sqm or greater.

You can discuss the suitability of a PPA as part of the Pre-Application Discussion process.

If you would like to submit a PPA with your Pre-Application Discussion request, use our PPA template.

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