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How we make planning decisions

The type, size and complexity of an application will determine how a decision is made.

There are four ways in which a decision can be made:

  • The decision on most planning applications is delegated to our planning officers.
  • Our Planning Committee will consider all Major applications, certain local applications and those and applications where the council has an estate in the land.
  • An elected member may request that an application is decided by the Planning Committee, provided they give sound planning reasons for doing so and make the request within 21 days of the application being publicly advertised.
  • The Department of Infrastructure will make decisions that have regional significance.

Our Scheme of Delegation (PDF - 75KB) sets out in detail when decisions on applications are delegated to planning officers and when they are decided by the Planning Committee.

Making comments on an application

Anyone may make a comment on a planning application. Comments must be made in writing and may be made online on the Planning Portal website (opens in a new window) or by email or post to the Belfast Planning Service address (in the contact us box). 

We accept petitions but will only correspond with whoever submitted the petition and not with other signatories on the petition.

In assessing a planning application, we can only take account of material planning considerations. Any comments you make should be restricted to material planning considerations only (opens in a new window). For example, we are unable to take into consideration civil disputes or issues which are regulated by other non-planning legislation.

The case officer will summarise any submitted comments in their report and the council will take them into consideration when it makes its decision.

If you have made a comment on an application, you can track the progress of the application on the Planning Portal website (opens in a new window). This includes the option of registering for future email notifications (opens in a new window).

Object or support at our Planning Committee

If you'd like to speak to our Planning Committee about a planning application that it is going to consider, please complete the request form. You need to have the application reference number and you must submit the request at least 48 hours before the committee meeting. 

You can only speak to committee if you've submitted a written response to an application. Once we receive your application we'll be in touch with more information.

Please note that we will not notify you when an application is going to be heard by the Planning Committee. You can check the agenda for upcoming Planning Committees. Due to volume, we are also unable to respond to individual comments submitted on planning applications.

Regionally significant planning applications

The Department for Infrastructure has responsibility for dealing with planning applications that have regional significance. 

If you have a query relating to a regionally significant planning application, you should contact the Department directly. Call 0300 200 7830 or email planning@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk


Contact us
Belfast Planning Service
028 9050 0510
Belfast Planning Service
Ground Floor
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast
BT2 8BP