19/06/2009

Area Delays Won't Affect Planning

Planners in Northern Ireland will continue to deal with major economic investment proposals speedily and effectively - despite delays in bringing forward new area development plans - NI Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has said.

In a statement to the Stormont Assembly, the Minister confirmed planners would only reject major applications on the grounds of prematurity if it was clear an approval would prejudice or undermine a development plan.

Mr Wilson (pictured here) said: "Changes in the economy can take place on a timescale that is significantly shorter than that experienced for the production of new development plans.
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"The system must, therefore, be improved in order to enable planning as a whole to become more effective in managing the development process.

"That is why I intend to bring forward proposals for a new local development plan system with the key aim of speeding up the whole process through plans that are more streamlined, quicker to prepare, more strategic in nature and importantly more responsive to change.

"This will inevitably take time to achieve. In the interim, I want to ensure, as far as possible, that when significant economic development proposals come forward that are clearly in the public interest, they are not unnecessarily stalled."

The Minister acknowledged the positive role planners were playing in areas like Omagh and Strabane alongside organisations like Invest Northern Ireland and local councils to find solutions for any land shortages for economic developments.

(PR/BMcc)

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