NI Planning Applications Take A Dive

The amount of planning applications submitted in Northern Ireland is continuing to plummet while a lack of office buildings could impact on inward investment for the country.

Planning proposals have seen a decrease of 17% this quarter compared to the same quarter last year. 

According to the Quarterly Development Management Statistics Bulletin (QDMSB) in the period April- June 2011/12, just under 4000 applications were received which is around half the level of four years ago.

In particular, planning applications for residential development are down by 28% to 2,350 compared with 4,400 in the first quarter of 2007/08.

Commercial applications have also seen a sharp decrease in recent times, down by 62% from 427 to 164. 

Planning performance, in terms of application processing times, for major, intermediate, and minor applications were all lower than the levels achieved for the corresponding quarter last year.

Meanwhile the study revealed that the majority of applications received were for residential development. At 2,350 these made up three fifths of all application types received

Overall, 92% of all applications decided in the first quarter of 2011/12 were approved.

But approval rates varied across Local Government Districts, from 81% in Omagh, to 99% in Cookstown. 

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Meanwhile another survey has said a lack of development in the office sector within Belfast city centre could consequently create a shortage of Grade A space.

It is believed this could impact on the North’s ability to facilitate inward investment, particularly if there was to be a cut in corporation tax.

Grade A office space is the most-sought after space. Typically, the buildings are either brand-new or have been recently redeveloped, or experienced a thorough refurbishment. They are also usually located in prime locations within major cities.

According to the survey it is understood that most of the office space is aimed at smaller businesses and therefore not the right size for larger corporate companies.

The research carried out by property agency Lisney included investigation of vacancy levels, stock levels and rents, across 17 local towns and cities.

Across these 17 towns and cities vacany rates were high. Portadown topped the list with a 20% vacany level.

While Craigavon was the lowest with just 3.6%.

Industrial vacancy levels were also studied in the report, with levels again particularly high.

Vacancy levels were found to be lowest in Newry with 6%, and the highest in Mallusk, with 21%.

Part of the reason for the high levels could be down to the shortage of good quality space and buildings within these areas.


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