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A recent information request* has revealed significant differences in the time taken by the Department for Infrastructure (“DfI”) in reaching a decision on whether or not to ‘call in’ planning applications which are the subject of an Article 17 direction – it is anywhere between 18 and 519 days.
Article 17 of the Planning (General Development Procedure) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 (“GDPO”) permits DfI to issue directions to a local council restricting the granting of consent of planning permission until DfI has decided whether or not to call in the application for DfI to make the final decision. Any planning application can be the subject of an Article 17 direction and DfI have provided guidance on this in its Development Management Practice Note 13 on ‘Notification and Call In’.
Since 2015, there have been 53 applications which were the subject of an Article 17 direction and only 14 were subsequently called in.
An Article 17 Direction causes significant delays in reaching a planning decision and whether the process adds any real value to the quality of decision making must be questioned. It will be interesting to see if, based on experience and a more mature planning system, their use will be reduced and restricted to those applications where DfI has a clear interest.
*DfI have advised that the information provided is management information used in the normal course of business, and not official statistics, however it provides a rough indication on the extent of delays being experienced in the planning process.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Please contact our Planning & Environment team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.