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  6. Northern Ireland drops proposed economic planning policy advice

Northern Ireland drops proposed economic planning policy advice

Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood has announced that he will not introduce proposed new planning policy about the economic importance of scheme after listening to the public, business groups and the commercial sector.

At issue was Draft Planning Policy Statement 24 (PPS 24) which proposed that full account should be taken of the economic implications of a planning proposal, including the wider implications for the regional and local economy, alongside social and environmental aspects. PPS24 was proposed by former environment minister Edwin Poots and consulted on earlier this year.

However, Attwood pointed out that the economic implications of proposed new development was already included in their determination. He said that PPS24 did not add much to the arguments, a point made by many of the respondents.

Minister have also recently clarified that any land previously used for business purposes, even if it is unzoned land, should continue to be used for business.

Attwood said: “I am determined that planning applications of all sizes with economic benefit, and crucially major benefit, are given every opportunity and a fair wind. Good planning, quick decisions, balanced by a favourable planning environment are key to economic growth and new jobs. I am determined that DOE planning will work better to achieve this. I will roll out a series of interventions in the coming period to help achieve this goal”.

The majority of the respondents to the public consultation opposed the proposed new policy; many of those who were in favour complained that the content of the draft was imprecise and lacked definition.

He added: “Others who responded to the consultation feared that implementation of draft PPS24 could compromise sustainable development or conservation objectives, undermine existing planning policies, or priorities short term financial gain over longer term sustainable growth”.

Roger Milne

8 September 2011