Wed 20th Aug 2014
Consistency of delivery key to new planning system
Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) has welcomed ‘a major milestone’ in the review and delivery of public administration, however it urges government and local councils to show consistency of delivery within the planning system when the 11 new ‘Super Councils’ take over from the outgoing 26 council model next year.
Responding to the Department of the Environment’s ‘Planning Reform & Transfer to Local Government’ consultation, which closed today, NI Chamber President Kevin Kingston said:
“In March 2015 when the 11 new ‘Super Councils’ take over from the outgoing 26 council model, then a major milestone in the review and the delivery of public administration will have been achieved.
“There is much within the proposed changes to the planning system to be welcomed, including the political reality that changes are definitely coming. This period that we are in now represents the best chance in many years for us to get planning right.
“We are committed to working with the Department, as we will with the new Councils, to ensure that Northern Ireland plc has a system which supports and facilitates a balanced approach to planning which can help drive long term sustainable economic growth.”
The membership organisation, which represents over 1,200 businesses and a total of 100,000 employees across Northern Ireland, also stressed that there must be a meaningful and coordinated relationship between the regional planning policy and that adopted and rolled out by the local Councils.
“Rather than Councils simply having to ‘take account of’ higher regional policy, we think there should be an onus on them to remain consistent and comply with Northern Ireland wide planning strategy.
“Consistency of delivery when it comes to planning is important to our members. We would not wish to see 11 models of planning delivery being created.”
Mr. Kingston concluded:
“We also welcome the proposed introduction of a 21 day time limit for consultees to respond to a consultation request. This will help to streamline the planning process, something which the business community has sought for several years. It is not clear that failure to respond within that timeframe will lead to a sanction, something we believe is necessary to ensure compliance.”
NI Chamber’s response to the Department of the Environment consultation was drafted in partnership with member company Carson McDowell LLP who represent a number of NI Chamber members across Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the consultation document, Gary McGhee, Head of the Planning & Environmental Law Team at Carson McDowell LLP said:
“The consultation proposals produced a wide range of responses which strongly suggest that key elements of the proposed transfer of planning powers need to be revised – and quickly, if the transfer is to produce a planning system that is orderly, consistent and fit for purpose going forward. A number of our clients are gravely concerned about the potential for inconsistencies between council produced plans and regional policy – regrettably, this still has not been properly addressed by the Department in the proposals.”
A copy of NI Chamber’s response to the consulation can be downloaded below.