17/09/2001

Campbell urges Assembly agreement for future strategy

Regional Development Minister Gregory Campbell has urged the Assembly to come to a swift decision regarding the future of the Regional Development Strategy so that implementation of the initiative can begin as soon as possible.

The Regional Development Strategy (RDS) for Northern Ireland guides the future development of Northern Ireland during the next 25 years and helps meet the needs of a fast growing region with a population approaching 2 million.

The strategy seeks to meet four important objectives that include social progress, effective protection of the environment, prudent use of natural resources; and the maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment.

Mr Campbell was speaking at the opening of a debate after he had tabled a motion seeking the Assembly’s agreement to the Regional Development Strategy (Shaping our Future) 2025.

He pointed out that in looking at implementation, the spotlight would inevitably fall on housing and progress towards the RDS’s regional brownfield target that 60 per cent of urban housing growth should be built within existing urban limits, as opposed to the 25-30 per cent level of the past 10 years.

The Minister said: "Let us not underestimate it. This target is challenging, particularly when one considers our baseline performance during the 1990s. But the approach set out in the strategy is a more sustainable way of meeting our regional housing needs.

"If we are to achieve it, there is an onus on my Department and the other key departments of Government to engage positively with the developers and the builders.

Mr Campbell also highlighted the need for a partnership approach throughout the important implementation phase of the strategy.

He said: "A great many people have already been involved in getting us to the point where, with leave of the Assembly, the Strategy is agreed.

"During the next few months, I will put in place innovative and responsive arrangements at sub regional level to assist Departments deliver the Strategy and ensure that progress is made right across Northern Ireland.” (CL)

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