Northern Ireland Planning Service

Foster sets out a programme for planning reform

Published on Thu, 29 Nov 2007
Environment Minister Arlene Foster has announced her intention to bring forward proposals for a wide-ranging reform of the planning system in Northern Ireland, and has appointed an independent expert advisor.
The Minister said: “I want a Planning system that supports and encourages sustainable economic growth while protecting and enhancing the natural and built environment.”
The Minister acknowledged the importance of the planning system in delivering the Executive’s goals of a prosperous and modern Northern Ireland, in particular its role in ensuring that Northern Ireland had the right public infrastructure in place in terms of hospitals, schools, roads and sewage services to meet the needs of its citizens and industry.
She added: “I want to see a planning system which delivers for everyone in Northern Ireland. No aspect of planning will be left untouched in the quest for a more streamlined development plan system, a more effective development control system, improved efficiency of processing and greater certainty about timescales.”
She also emphasised that any new processes should allow full and open consultation and should engage communities.
John Armstrong, Managing Director of the Construction Employers Federation, welcomed the announcement of a fundamental overhaul of the planning system. He said:
“We look forward to working with the Planning Service on this exciting opportunity to develop an accountable, flexible and responsive planning system that meets the economic, social and environmental needs of Northern Ireland in a timely manner.
As part of the reform agenda, the Minister has appointed an independent expert to assist her. She said:
“I am today announcing the appointment of Professor Greg Lloyd from the University of Liverpool, who will provide me with an independent opinion on what medium to long-term reform measures we need to take and to work with officials on how best these might be implemented.”
Greg Lloyd is Professor of Planning in the University of Liverpool. He brings with him a wide-range of experience in economics, land use planning, property rights, spatial planning, governance, urban regeneration and community planning.
During 2008, the public will be invited to offer their views on the reform agenda and a formal consultation paper will be published, seeking comments on the emerging proposals. In advance of this, the Minister advised that action is continuing on implementing a short-term change programme, through a series of projects and pilots relating to areas within the responsibility of the Planning Service, which will have an immediate impact on handling planning applications.

Notes to Editors

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