30/09/2009

MLA: Planning Does Not 'Fit All'

An assemblyman has said reformed rural planning legislation has highlighted the "draconian, knee-jerk" nature of its predecessor.

Ulster Unionist Tom Elliott (pictured) used his constituency of Fermanagh as an example of the "disservice" PPS14 did for countryside communities.

However, he said the new PPS21 showed that a 'one size fits all' approach does not work in the planning process.

Mr Elliot said: "As it stood on July 31 this year there were some 223 applications for Fermanagh which were deferred and awaiting the outcome of consultation on PPS 21. When compared with just 33 for Derry City the difference is vast.
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"Indeed since publication of draft PPS21 on November 25, 2008, and March 31 this year - a matter of just four months - 437 Planning approvals were granted in Fermanagh. This compares with just 130 in Limavady."

He said this demonstrates a "huge disparity in numbers" and the need for planning authorities to engage with communities and create "appropriate, flexible policies to meet genuine rural needs".

"One size does not fit all and these statistics show that very clearly," he said.

"Fermanagh has visibly different needs to other areas of the province, and cannot be lumped in under an unsympathetic, irrelevant policy - as was done previously.

"While PPS14 was in place farming families found it almost impossible to get approval for a dwelling to live close to their working environment, and that was totally unacceptable."

He added: "Failing to recognise the distinctive needs of rural communities is seriously damaging to a way of life which is already under threat from the ever-looming 'centralisation' agenda."

(PR/KMcA)

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