DOE Minister moves to create certainty on Planning as he releases report on the Northern Area Plan

editorial image

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has published the report from the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) detailing objections on the Northern Area Plan 2016 (NAP).

The Minister continued with the practice established by his predecessor, Minister Attwood, and has published the report as soon as possible after its receipt, to introduce a degree of certainty about potential development opportunities and to assist those that wish to make investment decisions, particularly in light of the considerable length of time since the publication of the Draft Plan. The PAC Report is available today.

Mark H Durkan said:

“The publication of the Planning Appeals Commission’s Report to the Draft Northern Area Plan (DNAP) today continues the approach established in relation to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) and the Banbridge, Newry and Mourne Area Plan (BNMAP) and is the correct approach for the north coast area - due to its similarities with these plans in terms of the considerable length of time since the Draft Plan was published in May 2005, the volume and complexity of the objections received and the forthcoming changes to the planning system and the role of local councils .

“This is the right approach for the Department in terms of openness and transparency of decision-making. It will also remove uncertainty for the local community, the development industry, the Councils and other elected representatives. The Plan covers the Council areas of Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle – which is also the area that comprises the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council area. The Report demonstrates there is an adequate supply of development land to meet the needs of the new Council area beyond the notional end date of the Northern Area Plan of 2016.

“As such, it provides a sound basis for the new Council to prepare its future plans under the reformed planning system provided for under the Planning (NI) Act 2011.

I want to make one matter very clear. A question in everyone’s mind will be – what is the status of recommendations in relation to the Plan now that they are public and how can these be relied upon?

“Although my Department is ultimately responsible for making the final decision on the recommendations made by the PAC, where the PAC recommendations are supportive of the contents of the Draft Plan, it is likely that my Department will accept these recommendations, unless there is a very good reason not to.”

Minister Durkan concluded: “I realise the importance of development plans as a basis for rational and consistent decisions relating to development proposals, and will provide some certainty in the interim period, prior to the final adoption of NAP early next year.”

More details in this week’s Ballymoney and Moyle Times.