A Causeway Coast and Glens councillor has expressed ‘frustration’ that advice urging amendments to time-limited planning legislation was not acted upon by the Department of Infrastructure.
The council’s Head of Planning had written to the Department’s Chief Planner at the beginning of lockdown to highlight elements of the legislation that may have needed to be amended to protect applicants’ rights during and after the Covid-19 lockdown.
Cllr Kathleen McGurk said the development, which came to light in the recent meeting of the council’s Planning Committee, was disappointing.
“It is very disappointing that the detailed advice provided to the Department of Infrastructure was not acted upon by Minister Mallon,” she said.
“Planning is an essential function of the economy and it is vital that planning services continue to operate and provide the necessary decisions so that the economy can be supported, particularly in the current climate.
“However, there are elements of planning legislation which have very rigid time limitations which could be very clearly affected by the current Pandemic.
“Several issues could impact upon applicants including expiration dates of planning permission already granted where works cannot commence due to restrictions during lockdown.
“Post lockdown, the inability to engage contractors with backlogs and material shortages could cause similar problems.
“I would have expected the Minister to have looked at these issues and amended legislation to ensure applicants are not adversely affected by deadlines.”
The council’s Planning Committee has expressed its frustration at the failure to take on board their advice and has agreed to write to the Minister asking her to reconsider.
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