Planning Portal

Sam Foster Announces Radical Shake Up Of Planning

Published on Tue, 12 Feb 2002
We need simpler, faster and more accessible planning processes. Businesses demand it. Communities demand it. Improved processes are essential if we are going to sustain development and harness growth to build a better future for Northern Ireland.
That was the key message from Environment Minister, Sam Foster, today when announcing the most radical shake up in planning for thirty years.
In publishing for consultation the paper, Modernising Planning Processes, Mr Foster said: "Planning is fundamental to delivering what people in Northern Ireland want – jobs, homes, better transport, lively communities and sensitive care of the environment we live in.
"The planning process has not changed fundamentally in almost 30 years. It is showing its age and is under pressure. That is why I believed it was time to look closely at the way in which planning operates, and to bring forward proposals to simplify, speed up and enhance community involvement in those processes. This paper focuses on the key challenges that I believe are central to public concerns about planning, and brings forward proposals to address them. Those challenges are:
  • more speedy decision making, particularly on major planning applications in order to support economic development, job creation and social progress;
  • greater clarity in planning policy, which underpins the decision making process for individual planning applications;
  • faster progress towards full and up-to-date development plan coverage, which will provide a clear and agreed local framework for considering development proposals;
  • effective participation by the public and community groups in the planning process, to ensure that planning meets the needs and aspirations of the community as a whole."
Encouraging as wide a range of people and organisations as possible to contribute to the consultation process, Mr Foster said: "Planning is important for us all. It touches all of our lives, in one way or another. It is fundamental to meeting the needs of this generation, and of generations to come. Good planning will promote appropriate development, not stifle it. It will also bolster productivity and competitiveness. At the same time, it will contribute to sustaining and protecting the environment. That is what this consultation paper seeks to achieve. Now it’s time to let us have your views."

Notes to Editors

  1. This consultation paper flows from a commitment to review operational planning processes in the Programme for Government 2001-2002.
  2. The consultation paper is designed to spark discussion on a range of ideas and options for improving the operation of planning processes in Northern Ireland. The paper focuses on three aspects of the planning process: the development control process (the way in which individual planning applications are dealt with); the process of preparing planning policy for Northern Ireland as a whole; and the process of preparing development plans for local areas within Northern Ireland.
  3. Most of the ideas and options put forward in the paper are capable of implementation within existing legislation and, as a whole, the package is designed to work within the existing political and institutional framework. The forthcoming Review of Public Administration will provide an opportunity to look closely at the planning system’s position within Northern Ireland’s political and institutional framework.
  4. The consultation paper can be accessed on this website or by writing to:
    Modernising Planning
    Room 326
    Clarence Court,
    10-18 Adelaide Street
    BT2 8GB.
  5. Comments should be sent to Harry Baird at the above address, or electronically to no later that 14 June 2002.
  6. For further media information, please contact Philip Maguire, DOE Press Office, Tel 028 9054 0013.
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