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27/10/2021

Local council demands Department withdraw planning advice

Mid Ulster District Council said the PAN would have 'far-ranging consequences' for rural communities.

Local council demands Department withdraw planning advice

A local council has said new planning advice will have 'severe, far-reaching consequences' for rural communities.

Mid Ulster District Council have called on Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon to withdraw a Planning Advice Notice (PAN) issued last month.

Chair and Deputy Chair of the Council's Planning Committee, Cllrs Kyle Black and Sean McPeake, have written to DfI after a special meeting of the Planning Committee agreed that the new ‘Planning Advice Note for Development in the Countryside’ would have serious ramifications for rural communities and the Council’s ability to make planning decisions which accommodate rural dwellings.

The issue centres on a new definition of buildings which can be taken into consideration when assessing a planning application for development on a farm and proposes that a group of buildings which include a house and domestic garage should not be included.

The new policy advice would, according to the Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Kyle Black, be so restrictive as to prevent many people from getting a perfectly sustainable rural dwelling:

“In Mid Ulster, the proportion of new dwellings allowed in the countryside is lower than the proportion of people living in the countryside," he said.

“There is no need, therefore, to place any additional limitations on development in rural areas.

“In fact, I would argue that there is a need to explore policy to provide additional sustainable opportunities for Mid Ulster’s existing rural dwellers.

“This policy would effectively tie our hands when it comes to making decisions tailored to, and based on, the needs of local people, which is what the transfer of planning powers to local council was all about”.

Deputy Chair of the Planning Committee, Councillor Sean McPeake, said the area had the space required.

“While other councils may face pressures in terms of accommodating rural development, we in Mid Ulster have the capacity to absorb new dwellings," he said.

“To address the issue with a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not appropriate, reasonable or fair.

“We are also concerned that the guidance could prejudice our ability to progress our Draft Local Development Plan which has been, rightly, developed to ensure that we take account of the very specific planning needs of our rural communities”.

A letter has been issued to the Minister detailing the Committee’s objections and asking her to withdraw the planning advice guidance.

GUEST COLUMN: Council can stand up for people of Mid Ulster region

Liam Ward from Ward Design in Castledawson comments on a new planning document which could help shape the future development of local areas.

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