A Development Proposal (DP) is required under Article 14 of the Education and Libraries (NI) Order 1986 before any significant change can be made to a school.

Development Proposals

Development Proposals (DPs) are the statutory means by which proposed changes of significance to education provision can be effected. The changes proposed must align with the current Area Plan and Annual Action Plan for education provision.  The Department has published detailed guidance describing the process. 

Circular 2017/09 - Guidance on the publication of a Development Proposal (updated June 2023)

Area Planning Notice - Integrated Education Act (NI) 2022


On 26 October 2022 the Integrated Education Act (NI) 2022 (IEA) came into force; and there are parts of the IEA which affect Area Planning, the Development Proposal (DP) process and how this contributes to the implementation of the Department’s Sustainable Schools Policy (SSP).

Integrated Education Act (NI) 2022 - Area Planning Notice

The Department must consider the implications of the IEA in full and, in particular in its assessment of current and future DPs involving Integrated Education.

The Department intends to review and revise its guidance in relation to DPs i.e. Circular 2017/09 in due course, in light of the IEA and consult with the appropriate advisory bodies, as per the requirements of the IEA.  The attached notice however, sets out the interim steps being taken by the Department and the requirement for the IEA to be considered in future proposals in relation to Integrated Education.


Site and Accommodation Requirements to implement a Development Proposal

Accommodation requirements are an important consideration when Development Proposals are being assessed by the Department.  Timely submission of information aids the consideration of the DP and allows the Department’s Investment and Infrastructure Directorate to engage with the proposer at an early stage to discuss “day one” implementation requirements.

The Site and Accommodation Requirements form should be completed and submitted to the Education Authority along with the Development Proposal and the supporting Case for Change.

If you have any queries regarding completion of the form please contact the Estate Operations Team on 028 91 279519.

The Education Authority (EA) publishes all DPs and is required by legislation to publish a DP advertisement in one or more newspapers circulating in the area affected by the proposal. Once published the Department will list details of the proposal on its website.  All DPs are subject to a two month statutory objection period effective from the date of publication of the DP advertisement.  During this period the Department will take receipt of objections to the proposal and other views including expressions of support.

When a decision has been made on a DP the Department will note the decision on the record of DPs on the Department’s website and make available the submission (with appropriate redactions) on which the Minister/ Permanent Secretary  took the decision on the Department’s website.  

In addition to this the Department has also published guidance on the implementation of approved Development Proposals for school amalgamations.

If circumstances arise where the Education Authority supports a voluntary school’s request to be recognised as a controlled school a Development Proposal (DP) under the terms of Article 14 (1) (b) is appropriate -

“14. (1) Where the Authority proposes -
(b) to have an existing school recognised as a controlled school, other than a controlled integrated school; the Authority shall submit the proposal to the Department.”

Guidance on the procedure to be followed has been published by the Department.


Back to top