09/05/2002

Good planning benefits economy and the environment

The economy and the environment can both be winners if we have good planning processes the Northern Ireland Minister of Environment Dermot Nesbitt has said.

This upbeat message from Mr Nesbitt was delivered at the Construction Industry Group conference held in the Ramada Hotel in Belfast on Thursday May 9, which met to formally give their response to the Planning Service’s consultation paper on Modernising Planning Processes.

Mr Nesbitt said: “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.

“However, businesses must play their part in partnership with the Government and the community to ensure that development is appropriate. This process is about improving the delivery of planning and the development industry has a vital contribution to make to the debate.

“That is the carrot. However, there is also a stick. For those developers who refuse to work in partnership, I am seeking the Assembly’s agreement to stronger enforcement powers and stiffer penalties, and I will not hesitate to use them.”

Last month the DOE produced the Modernising Planning Processes framework document, which aims to deliver a simpler, faster and more accessible planning process.

Referring to this the Minister said: “In view of the increasing number of planning applications since Devolution, I am determined that Planning should not be an obstacle to future social and economic expansion. We have already increased the number of planning decisions each year by 20 per cent, but I want to do better.”

Mr Nesbitt concluded: “Since coming into office I have been determined to ensure that improved planning processes are put in place. Where necessary, I will also continue to seek increased resources to deal with the challenges faced by the Planning Service. I very much welcome the contribution from the Construction Industry Group in helping the Planning Service to meet the many important difficult issues it faces.”

(AMcE)


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