Minister announces extension of award-winning scheme
Published on Tue, 16 Feb 2010
The Planning Service recently received a prestigious award for innovation and imagination in modernising planning processes.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RPTI) award was achieved for the recently introduced Streamlined Consultation Scheme which has been agreed with all 26 local Councils.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “All key stakeholders in the planning system recognise the success of this innovative Streamlined Scheme which has reduced average processing times to 32 working days for streamlined approvals. This means that one in three of all applications are now currently approved within a six week period. It is therefore very pleasing, and a tremendous achievement for Planning Service, to receive recognition at a national level for innovation, imagination and professionalism in changing processes to improve efficiencies and speed up the delivery of planning approvals. I am also pleased to announce a further extension of this scheme”.
The Streamlined Scheme was first introduced as a pilot with the agreement of Derry City Council and has subsequently been adopted by all 26 Councils. Planning Service continues to work with Councils to implement an extension of the scheme, to include a wider range of types of planning applications. To date 13 Councils have agreed to operate an extended version.
Mr Poots said: “The take-up of the enhanced scheme will provide further benefits to councils and applicants. The prompt processing of planning applications can only have a significant impact on the local economy, in particular for small and medium sized business enterprises submitting applications for minor developments."
The Minister emphasised that this huge efficiency improvement in delivering planning approvals for a whole range of application types cannot be underestimated, projecting that up to 80% of all applications will be handled through an extended streamlined process, if implemented by all councils.
The Minister concluded by saying that: “While the Planning Service is often criticised for poor results it is to be congratulated on this tremendous achievement as part of the ongoing short term reform programme. The benefits from this innovative scheme, including culture change both for Planning Service and the councils, along with improved business relationships, provides a solid platform for further developing process changes and structures as we move towards implementing RPA.”
John Armstrong, Managing Director, Construction Employers’ Federation (CEF), which has worked closely with the Planning Service on Streamlining, said: “The Planning Service is to be commended for this achievement. This is a very prestigious award which has recognised the significant improvement in processing times for those applications that meet the requirements of the Streamlined process. The CEF will continue to work closely with the Planning Service to develop further initiatives to improve the delivery of planning reform.”
Notes to editors:
1. Streamlining was first introduced in 2008 as a pilot in partnership with Derry City Council.
2. It only includes applications with no objections which are to be approved.
3. It was rolled out to all 26 Councils during 2008/09 business year.
4. Average timescales for approvals reduced from about 90 to 30 working days.
5. The Scheme is being extended to include additional categories of applications.
6. 13 Councils now operating extended Scheme.
7. It is anticipated that all Councils will adopt extended scheme during 2010.
8. Up to 80% of all applications are expected to be Streamlined.
9. Examples of application types included are:-
- extensions and alterations to dwellings;
- advertisements and direction signs;
- electricity lines (up to 33Kv) and substations;
- change of House Types;
- shop fronts;
- agricultural buildings;
- minor alterations and extensions to schools; churches, health centres etc;
- small housing developments (up to 5 houses)
- rural houses;
- conservation area consent;
- renewable energy micro-generation (solar/wind).
10. The RTPI Awards are held annually in London to recognise outstanding achievement in Planning.
11. Derry City Council supports the Streamlined partnership model and recognises the benefits to local business and residents.
12. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 9054 0003. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.