Minister Outlines Final Policy Proposals for Reform of the Planning System
Published on Mon, 1 Mar 2010
Environment Minister Edwin Poots has outlined measures to bring about the most sweeping reform of Northern Ireland's planning system for over 30 years.
Mr Poots was speaking after the Executive passed his wide-ranging reform package aimed at delivering a more effective and responsive planning system on 25 February 2010.
Speaking at the Royal Town Planners Institute N I dinner at Queen’s University in Belfast Mr Poots said: “I welcome the fact that Executive colleagues have now cleared the final policy proposals for reform of the planning system. The measures represent the most far-reaching changes to our planning system in over 30 years.
“Last year’s public consultation on the proposals for reform demonstrated broad support for the proposals. I believe these changes offer us an unprecedented opportunity to transform our mainly regulatory planning system into a more proactive, co-ordinated and responsive system which will help to enable appropriate sustainable development”.
He continued: “One of my key goals as Environment Minister is to ensure that we have a modern, efficient and effective planning system which serves the needs of all the people of Northern Ireland and supports the Executive in promoting economic growth. The changes proposed affect almost every aspect of the planning system, as well as addressing the measures necessary to transfer the majority of planning functions to local government.”
Mr Poots stated: “I am confident that the extensive reforms, to which the Executive have agreed today, represent a significant step towards realising our vision for a reformed planning system and I remain fully committed to ensuring that it is put in place.”
He concluded: “No-one should underestimate the scale of the reform programme, particularly when combined with the transfer of responsibility for the majority of planning functions to the new councils.”
The Minister indicated that he is committed to publishing the formal Government Response to the consultation exercise, including the final policy proposals to be taken forward as agreed by the Executive, in the coming weeks.
Notes to editors :
1. Among the final policy proposals to be taken forward are:
- A new streamlined, fit for purpose and responsive local development plan system which would enable district councils, communities and developers to work together to prepare plans setting a clear and realistic vision of how places should change and what they will be like in the future.
- Performance agreements, pre-application community consultation and pre-determination council hearings to improve efficiency, provide greater certainty about timescales and enhance transparency and openness.
- An expansion of the list of statutory consultees to ensure relevant statutory bodies are consulted by the planning authorities. A statutory obligation will also be introduced on consultees to respond within a specified timeframe.
- A new regime of development management, changing the culture of the planning application process to ensure it is responsive to different types of proposals to help deliver development, improve efficiency in determining applications, and enhance community involvement at appropriate points in the process.
2. The reform proposals were subject to a period of public consultation in the form of the ‘Reform of the Planning System in Northern Ireland: Your chance to influence change’ consultation paper from 6th July - 2nd October 2009.
3. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.