The average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments has fallen by 17% on the previous year, paving the way for the building trades.
Annual statistics published this week show decision times for local and major applications have reduced, meaning more housing and business developments can start to build sooner.
Planning Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics, but said more must be done to improve planning performance.
The average decision time for major developments in 2015-16 reduced by more than 6 weeks on the previous year, while major housing development decisions are now almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.
Decisions made on local housing applications also reduced by almost a week compared to the previous year.
Mr Stewart said:“Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and ultimately to helping build more homes. Speeding up the planning system is a vital part of this.
“These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.
“The reduction in decision making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.”