Joint Ministerial Statement
1. As Ministers responsible for the Department for Regional Development and the Department of the Environment we are issuing this Statement as a result of concerns that implementation of elements of the Regional Development Strategy for Northern Ireland (RDS) is being compromised by development decisions which are based on provisions within extant development plans drawn up prior to its publication.
2. We are also concerned that such decisions could compromise the achievement of general conformity between an emerging development plan and the RDS, which is required by the Planning (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 (as amended).
3. Furthermore the Statement addresses a number of other circumstances where decisions which are based on provisions within extant development plans are raising significant problems.
4. The purpose of the Statement therefore is to clarify 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 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.
5. This Statement is an expression of government policy. It will be operated by the Department of the Environment in the determination of planning applications. We also expect the Planning Appeals Commission to apply the policy contained in this Statement in the determination of planning appeals.
6. This Statement supersedes paragraphs 46 to 48 of Planning Policy Statement 1 – General Principles. In the event that there is a contradiction between the contents of this Statement and any other planning policy document including PPS 1 the policy contained in this Statement will take precedence.
7. The Statement has been subject to an equality impact screening exercise in line with the statutory obligation contained in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. The outcome of this exercise indicates that there is nothing in the Statement which is likely to have any significant adverse implications for equality of opportunity or community relations.