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Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011

Commentary on Sections

Part 10: Assessment of Council’s performance or decision making.

Section 207: Assessment of council’s performance

This section introduces new powers for the Department to conduct an assessment of a council’s performance or to appoint a person to do so. The assessment may cover a council’s performance of its planning functions in general or of a particular function.

Section 208: Assessment of council’s decision making

This section gives the Department or a person appointed by the Department the power to conduct an assessment of how a council deals with applications for planning permission. This power is limited to exclude decisions made within the year preceding the date that a council are notified of the assessment.  The assessment may cover the basis for determinations, the processes by which they have been made and whether they were in accordance with the local development plan or conformed with advice given by the Department.

Section 209: Further provision as respects assessment of performance or decision making

This section details the arrangement for assessments of councils’ performance or decision making.  The Department is required to notify a council of its intention to carry out an assessment, and to indicate its intended scope and, where it appoints a person to carry out the assessment, it is to advise a council who the appointed person is.  The Department will have powers to determine that the scope of an assessment under section 208 may relate to a type of application, a period of time or a geographical area.  For the purposes of any assessment the Department or the appointed person may require access to any premises of a council and any documents which appear to be necessary for the purposes of the assessment.  The section allows the Department or the appointed person to require a person to give them such information as necessary and to attend in person to give the information or documents and requires a council to provide the Department or the appointed person with every facility and all information which may reasonably be required.  The Department or the appointed person must give 3 clear days notice of any requirement under this section and produce a document of identification if required to do so.

Section 210: Report of assessment

The Department or the appointed person is required to prepare a report (an assessment report), and issue it to a council. The report may recommend improvements which a council should make.  A council is required to prepare and submit a response report to the Department within 3 months of receipt of the assessment report. Both reports must be published.  The Department may issue a direction specifying actions where a council declines to implement recommendations or appears not to be carrying out what it proposes in its response report.  The Department must publish any such direction or variation of a direction.

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