Planning Portal

Ministers Clarify Development Plans

Published on Mon, 31 Jan 2005
Regional Development Minister, John Spellar, MP, and Angela Smith, MP, Minister for the Environment, issued a joint statement today, to end uncertainty about the importance of emerging development plans in deciding planning applications.
Minister Spellar said: "We are concerned that some of the long term directions for the future growth of Northern Ireland, set out in the Regional Development Strategy, are being compromised by decisions based on development plans drawn up before the new Strategy was agreed."
The Ministers explained that new development plans, unlike their predecessors, must be in general conformity with the Regional Development Strategy, published in 2001. The Strategy sets out new directions to achieve a range of positive outcomes for Northern Ireland, i.e. to accommodate balanced development in a sustainable manner, to strengthen competitiveness and economic growth, to achieve greater social inclusion and to protect and enhance the physical, natural and man-made assets of the region.
Decisions made under the provisions of older plans, pre-dating the Regional Strategy and made less relevant by the passing of time, could however undermine the achievement of these outcomes.
Minister Smith explained: "That is why we are issuing this statement today. It seeks to clarify the weight that should be accorded, in considering new development proposals, to the provisions of an emerging development plan drawn up within the context of the new directions, set out in the Regional Development Strategy. This will help assist in the implementation of the Strategy and enable the resultant benefits to be realised."

Notes to Editors

  1. The Ministers’ Joint Statement is entitled ‘Development Plans and Implementation of the Regional Development Strategy’. It clarifies the weight that should be accorded, in making planning decisions, to the provisions of an emerging development plan drawn up within the context of the new directions set out in the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland (RDS) and other prevailing regional planning policy. In so doing the Statement expands on the circumstances when it is appropriate to refuse planning permission on the grounds of prematurity.
  2. The Statement is an expression of government policy. Its key aim is to ensure that both the RDS and emerging plans drawn up within its context are not compromised by development decisions based on provisions within extant development plans drawn up prior to the publication of the RDS.
  3. The Joint Statement can be accessed on this website and at the DRD website Opens link in a new browser window
  4. A copy of the Joint Statement can be obtained from Planning Service Headquarters, 2nd Floor Millennium House, 19-25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast BT2 7BN.
  5. For further information, contact Brian Kirk, DOE Press Office, Tel: 028 9054 0013, mobile 07767 362605, e-mail or Paddy Cullen, DRD Press Office Tel: 028 9054 0817, e-mail
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