New Sinn Féin candidate for the Eastern area of the Cookstown DEA has said that failure to implement planning policy reform is damaging rural communities.
Gavin Bell told the MAIL: “Failure to implement planning policy reform, by the Minister for Planning, Mark H. Durkan, at Stormont, is having an extremely negative impact on rural community sustainability and development, particularly within the east of Cookstown District Electoral Area.
“Under the present planning policy, PPS 21, there are virtually no new dwellings being built in a non-farming rural context, with planning permission almost impossible. Large numbers of constituents are being denied equality and the opportunity to remain within their rural communities.
He continued: “Families have been living in rural areas for generations and have helped contribute to their communities to what it is today. Our young people are having no other option than to move outside of the place they call home, reluctantly to towns and cities! This is having a detrimental impact on families, who are accustomed to a rural way of life.
“Sinn Féin is bringing forward a motion to the Assembly, to address this deficit under the current regulations, which will bring about the much needed and overdue changes, that will enable non-farming rural dwellers to set up home in the countryside. More often than not, I am being challenged on the doorsteps by constitutents, on the possibility of change within planning. It is very much on my agenda and now call on all elected representatives, within Cookstown Council, to show leadership and unity, in sending out a strong message to the minister, that reform is needed and fast!”