Associations must ensure before undertaking any scheme that all statutory approvals i.e. Planning Permission, Building Regulation approvals are sought, in addition all statutory agreements are in place with all the legal authorities.

Statutory Approvals


In undertaking particular types of development e.g. new build or rehabilitation,   Associations will need to ensure that any necessary Statutory Approval is obtained and that it complies with any conditions attached to the granting of the approval.  The main Statutory Approvals are Planning Permission and Building Regulation Approval.  In Off the Shelf schemes the Association will need to ensure that the necessary Statutory Approvals have been obtained by the Developer and that any conditions applicable have been complied with by the Developer.  

For more information see Scheme Types

Planning Permission

The Department’s minimum requirements with regard to planning permission are set out in the Scheme Approval Guide - Band 3 Development Milestones.  It is recommended that the Association does not acquire land or property without undertaking preliminary enquiries about its Planning status.  Where it is necessary or expedient to acquire the land/ property before permission is granted, the Association should minimise its risks by obtaining as much reassurance as possible that approval will be forthcoming.  It should also have regard to the financial risks and make provision to cover any private loans and/or Housing Association Grant advanced, from its own resources if permission is refused.

Planning charges are taken into account as part of the standard allowance for on-costs.  Consequently, charges arising out of planning applications to support land/ property acquisition will not be recoverable if the proposed scheme is not subsequently approved.  Further information on planning permission, fees etc is available at Northern Ireland Planning Service.

Building Regulations Approval

Building Regulations have regard to the need for securing the health, safety, welfare and convenience of persons in or about buildings and furthering the conservation of fuel and power.  Building Regulations approval must be sought from the local City or District Council in whose area the work will take place, for the erection, extension or the material alteration, including rehabilitation, of a building.  The Building Regulations also apply to the provision, extension or replacement of sanitary equipment, drainage (both rain-water and foul) fixed heating appliances (other than electrical appliances) and the insulation and energy-saving controls for space and water heating systems.  Approval must also be sought for the change of use of an existing building e.g., for a building to be used for a dwelling where previously it was not or for an existing dwelling to be converted into flats, apartments or a sheltered dwelling or home.

Fees are payable to the City/ District Council for all Building Regulation applications. However certain exemptions apply where the work is solely for people with a disability.  Details of the latest level of fees may be obtained from the relevant City/ District Council.  

For more information  on Building Regulations: Buildings and energy efficiency of buildings

Statutory Agreements


Statutory Agreements

Associations may require various Statutory Agreements when undertaking scheme development for social housing provision, depending on the type of proposals.

Charges, Fees and Legal Costs

A condition of some Statutory Agreements referred to below, may be that the Association pays the supervision or administration charges of the Statutory Authority.  Normally the Agreement will incorporate a clause concerning the charges involved and require settlement on execution of the Agreement.    
Legal Costs
In addition to the paragraph above referring to Charges, Fees and Legal Costs, the Statutory Authority may require the Association to meet the Authority’s legal expenses incurred in preparing the Agreement.  These legal costs are either invoiced separately to the Association or incorporated in the Agreement.  The Association may also incur legal expenses of its own in entering into the Agreement.
Any charges, fees, or legal costs associated with Statutory Agreements should form part of the estimated works costs for the scheme.

Private Streets (Northern Ireland) Order 1980 as amended by The Private Streets (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1992

Article 24 (1) of the Private Streets (Northern Ireland) Order 1980 requires in relation to certain new building that no work may be done until a sum specified by the Roads Service, in respect of the street works, has been paid or secured by a person having an estate in the land.

Roads Service has agreed, however, that exemption from this provision can be given to those Housing Associations registered with the Department under Article 16 of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 by completion of an appropriate agreement under Article 32 of the Private Streets (Northern Ireland) Order 1980, for each project to which Article 24 would otherwise apply. For this purpose a modified form of the model Agreement used by the Roads Service has been drawn up.  Please note that this form of the Agreement is applied for a private street determined on or after 1 May 2001.

A similar process is used under Article 4(1) of the 1992 Order which enables the Department to require the improvement of a public road joined by a street in relation to which the Department exercises street planning functions.

In order to complete an Agreement for a housing project being undertaken by a Registered Housing Association, Roads Service will require the following details from the Association:

  • the date of registration of the Association with the Department
  • a copy of the scheme approval form
  • confirmation of whether the estate is freehold or leasehold and
  • 6 x 1:1250 scale location plans showing coloured blue the street works with the estate which is to be included in the Agreement surrounded by a red line

Note: the Agreement will then be drawn up by the Roads Service and should be ‘‘sealed by the Association’’ in accordance with its rules.

The performance of an Agreement will be secured by the financial arrangements provided for Housing Associations under the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992.  Should an Association default on its liabilities under the Agreement, the Roads Service may invoke its powers under paragraph 8 and request that the costs of completing the works be diverted to it from grants due to the Association from the NIHE (DPG).

Supply of electricity – Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE)

As a condition of laying new cables to provide electricity to a New Build scheme NIE may require:

  • the acquisition of a small parcel of the Association’s land upon which to build a sub-station and/or
  • the right, in perpetuity, to enter onto the Association’s land to lay, maintain or replace the cables serving the scheme

In either case the consideration paid by NIE will normally be a nominal sum and the Association is not required to obtain an independent valuation.  However, any consideration or premium paid by NIE should be treated as a non-public capital contribution.  Any annual rent paid for an easement or wayleave is retained by the Association.

The Association will require consent, under Article 13 of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, from the Department before entering into any contract or deed for the disposal of land.  This should be done by submitting the contract or deed and the accompanying plan, showing the route of cables and the location of any sub-station site, to the Department prior to execution.  The contract or deed should make provision for endorsement by the Department as follows:
“The Department  for Communities hereby consents under Article 13 of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 to the within disposal.
Senior Officer of the Department for Communities
Dated this          day of          20XX  .”

The contract or deed should also provide, inter alia, that the NIE must:

  • not use the sub-station for any other purpose except in connection with the provision of electricity
  • keep the sub-station in good repair and condition and
  • indemnify the Association from all claims arising from any loss, damage or injury caused as a consequence of the erection, repair, maintenance or use of the sub-station provided that such actions do not arise through negligence or fault of the Association

For further information visit Northern Ireland Electricity

Water and Sewers in connection with new developments

The statutory obligations of the Department for Infrastructure are set out in The Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006. Under Article 13 of the Order they have has appointed Northern Ireland Water as the relevant water undertaker and sewerage undertaker to perform any duty imposed by, or under, any statutory provision on the undertaker.

Northern Ireland Water has procedures for the application for a watermain and the adoption of sewers.

For further information visit Northern Ireland Water

Supply of Water, Gas and Telecom Cables

Public utility service providers such as Northern Ireland Water, Phoenix Gas, Fermus Energy, BT and Virgin Media, when required to provide mains, pipes, cables or conduits carrying their services, may also require the rights as described previously.  In such cases the Department’s requirements are the same as set out in the paragraph above relating to Supply of Electricity.

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