Planning restructured for a new era
Published on Fri, 1 Apr 2011
The Department of the Environment has announced that, from today, the six Planning Divisions have been reorganised into five Planning Areas.
The move is part of an ongoing process to transfer planning powers to a new 11 council structure. In November, new plans to reinvigorate planning and local government were announced. The aim is to transform and prepare the Planning Service in anticipation of the transfer.
Designed around the 11 council clusters the five Planning Areas will provide for an affordable, effective and consistently robust service across Northern Ireland.
The Planning Bill, which last week completed its passage through the Assembly, provides the framework for the transfer of planning functions to local government. This will happen after new governance arrangements for councils and a new ethical standards regime for councillors, which is currently out for consultation have been put in place.
Deputy Secretary for Planning and Local Government Ian Maye said: "For customers of the Planning Service there will be no difference. They will continue to receive the same high standard of service they have enjoyed to date. However, this restructuring is a key landmark in the process of transferring planning powers to local councils."
As part of the transformation, Planning Service’s status as an agency ended yesterday and from today its functions have been absorbed into the Department. Local Planning Division has taken over operational responsibility for the development plan and development management functions that will transfer to councils. Strategic Planning Division will take forward the responsibilities which will remain with the department following local government reform.