Planning review a massive missed opportunity, says Muir

Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said the recently published review into Northern Ireland’s planning system is a massive missed opportunity.

The North Down MLA added the Infrastructure Minister should re-consider her decision not to pursue numerous key changes recommended by many who responded to the consultation. The report on the review of the implementation of the 2011 Planning Act was published after consultation finished in April last year.

An amendment was inserted whilst finalising the Act requiring a review and publication of a report concerning implementation of the Act.

“I am profoundly disappointed Minister Nichola Mallon has failed to take the opportunity to improve our planning system after hopes were raised over last year the chance for change could have been grasped,” said Mr Muir.

“Our planning system significantly affects local communities, is a key driver for economic growth and enables us to tackle the climate crisis. Evidence presented during the review highlighted a wide range of concerns and the need for action, yet the report falls short.

“Refusal to take forward many of the changes proposed by consultees leaves us with a broken planning system and a future where problems highlighted in the review are just perpetrated year after year. Faced with a mountain of examples why our planning system is not fit for purpose, it’s hard not to feel the Department for Infrastructure has just keeping its head in the sand.

“With a climate emergency already declared requiring a clear and coherent response from planning, communities frustrated their voices are not being heard and atrociously slow processing times for planning applications, we cannot afford to let this whitewash of a report to stand.”