Ministerial Statement: Quality Initiative
My purpose today is to announce a major review of planning issues in the Belfast City Region and to introduce a new policy aimed at securing higher standards of urban design – particularly in relation to new development on greenfield sites.
The term “Belfast City Region” is perhaps new to Planning in Northern Ireland, but the concept of studying the needs of the city in relation to its hinterland is not. As far back as 1945, a body known as the Northern Ireland Planning Commission produced a report on the future not only of the City of Belfast but of (and I quote) “the adjoining parts of Antrim and Down – hereinafter referred to as the Belfast Area” – end of quotation. The Matthew Report in 1963 recognised the interdependence of the towns and villages neighbouring Belfast in the “Regional Survey and Plan”. As we approach the Millennium it is, I think, appropriate that we should again be addressing planning issues on a city region basis.
I am particularly pleased to see elected representatives from every local authority in the region. Today we have representatives from the district council areas of Antrim, Ards, Ballymena, Banbridge, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Craigavon, Down, Larne, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, North Down and of course Belfast. In addition, we have people from the business, community, public and voluntary sectors. You are all most welcome.