Northern Ireland Planning Service

Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland
Foreword

Northern Ireland has a wealth of wonderful landscapes, a rich traditional pattern of settlement and a dispersed rural community. This is a heritage which I value and one that we must preserve and enhance for future generations.
However, communities face particular challenges in planning for their future growth and development, and Government, at local and national level, has to provide a means of assessing competing demands in the public interest. The planning process is that means.
Following a consultation exercise which produced a wide range of opinions, we have published this comprehensive integrated report which lays out the Department's Planning Strategy for rural areas. This will be the guiding document both for the public and specialists at all levels.
Planning decisions affect ordinary people and it is essential that the rules are easily understood and fairly implemented. That is why the relationship between applicant and planner must be helpful, straightforward and productive. This Strategy aims to encourage that.
If Northern Ireland is to develop in a sustainable way, accommodating economic diversity and the conservation of its natural assets, there must be understanding and mutual respect for the differing interests of society. There must be co-operation in reconciling differences and in charting a way forward in the interests of all.
I believe that the publication of this Strategy is an important step in that direction. I know that successful co-operation will conserve and develop a countryside which we will all continue to value.
Robert Atkins
Minister for the Economy and the Environment
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