Residents will receive a written notification when planning permission is sought for a neighbouring property, the government announced this afternoon.

The move is part of the Built Environment Reform Programme (BERP), which aims to make planning easier to use and more accessible.

This includes improving engagement, with neighbours notified of a planning application, so they have the opportunity to contribute to the planning process.

Following a planning application, any neighbouring properties directly abutting an application site, with a postal address, will receive a written notification that planning permission is being sought. They will not be sent to field numbers or owners of fields.

The weekly publication of planning applications, as well as the requirement to display site notices at properties where planning permission is being sought, will continue.

A trial major applications process has already been introduced through the BERP to speed up the determination of larger and more complex applications, and a customer charter published to set out the standards the government wants its planning system to achieve.

A survey to gather public opinion on the planning system was also carried out and received more than 110 responses, with people identifying four key areas for improvement.





In response, a number of improvements have already been rolled out, such as, additional guidance for applicants to help avoid costly delays and a review of counter opening times.

Further actions will see a review of staffing, training, and the planning website. The Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture will also examine the way planning applications are dealt with, fees and IT systems. These actions will help drive efficiencies and ensure resources are in place to address the 1,400 planning applications received each year in a timely manner.

Clare Barber MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture said: ‘This government has set an ambitious goal to improve the quality of our built environment and build great communities.

‘The survey results are very helpful in understanding what is currently done well and where we can improve. We are confident the resulting actions can make a real difference and help deliver on this programme’s commitment to improve the built environment and build great communities.’