Mid and East Antrim has maintained its top position as planning decisions within the borough are made in less time than anywhere else in Northern Ireland, with the average application taking just 7.8 weeks to complete compared to a regional average of 15 weeks.
Statistics released by the Department for Infrastructure show Mid and East Antrim to have the shortest turnaround time for local applications out of all 11 local authorities with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council listed as the second most efficient at 12.2 weeks.
Five of the 11 councils were within the 15-week target during this timeframe, with Mid and East Antrim recording 7.8 weeks.
Mayor Councillor Maureen Morrow has welcomed the latest statistics, adding that an efficient planning system was crucial to delivering on council’s number one strategic priority - growing the economy. She said: “I would like to congratulate the previous planning committee and council officers, who continue to set the standard when it comes to planning. They have excelled in terms of local government planning reform, and are consistently delivering efficiency improvements to the applications process and I hope the new committee can maintain this top position.”
Chair of the Council’s Planning Committee, Cllr Robert Logan added: “As a Council, we are passionate about sustaining, protecting and enhancing our natural environment, safeguarding our built heritage, driving retail growth and addressing our housing needs. I am pleased to hear we are setting the standard with an efficient planning system in place, brought about by our staff working at all levels, that allows for decisions to be made in a timely manner.”
Council’s Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, said: “I am delighted we have maintained our position as Northern Ireland's most efficient council in terms of planning, and this is down to a culture of performance within our organisation.
"Growing the economy is this council’s number one priority and we see our role as doing our utmost to provide the best possible conditions for business to flourish. A strong planning system is at the heart of those plans.
“Together with the backing of our elected representatives – who have demonstrated unwavering support to our focus on economic growth – we have introduced and delivered a number of initiatives aimed at transforming the economy in this borough.
"Recent major projects include the approval of plans for the transformation of the former St Patrick's Barracks site in Ballymena and Northern Ireland's first dedicated retirement village in Carrickfergus, as well as the regeneration of Glenarm into a leading tourism attraction along the world famous Causeway Coastal Route.
"I am excited by future plans for further innovation, including hotels and other developments.
"Over the past number of years I along with my team have been developing a new evidenced-based Local Development Plan for the Borough.
"This is due to go to public consultation this autumn and will provide a framework to support future investment decisions."
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- The planning figures were included in the Department for Infrastructure publication of the Northern Ireland Planning Statistics: 2018/19 Annual Statistical Bulletin.