NI Planning Reform: Update on The Planning Act (NI) 2011

04 February 2013

The Planning Bill introduced in January 2013 is aimed at bringing forward many of the reforms proposed by The Planning Act NI (2011)

The Planning Act (NI) 2011 provides for the transfer of most planning functions to District Councils in 2015.

On 14 January 2013 the Planning Bill was introduced to the Assembly by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.  This Bill will bring forward many of the reforms in advance of the official transfer of these planning functions and will make provision to underpin the role of planning in promotion of economic development.  The Planning Bill is an interim measure aimed at speeding up the proposed reforms of the Planning Act and will only remain in place until the Act itself is fully commenced. The Bill, which is expected to be in force by the end of the year, aims to deliver:

Measures to promote economic development; includes the legal requirement to have regard to the economic consequences of granting or refusing the planning permission.

Measures to promote sustainable development and enhance the environment

Faster processing of planning applications; processes are to be streamlined

Faster and fairer planning appeals system; includes the potential to award costs when a party has behaved unreasonably

Enhanced community involvement; requires developers to consult with communities before making a major planning application

Simpler and tougher enforcement; includes increased fines and introduction of fixed penalty notices.

Decision makers will have to balance competing considerations in assessing proposals and the Environment Committee seeks views by 15 March 2013.



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