SINN Féin MLA Ian Milne has called on Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to take a fresh look at PPS 21 and make provision for the non-farming rural dweller.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Milne said:
“My concern is that the current planning policy has closed down possibilities for rural people who are not directly involved with farming. I would be the first to acknowledge that farming families need additional dwellings on the farm to allow for the next generation to continue with this work. But a point that is not always understood is that most rural dwellers are not directly involved in farming.
“PPS21, except for very unusual circumstances to do with replacement dwellings or new dwellings in existing clusters, does not allow anyone to build a modest bungalow in the countryside if you are not involved with farming. When I say countryside, I understand this definition to be on any land lying outside of a village or town boundary.
“No one would argue for a free for all, or for bungalow blight in the countryside, or the speculative development that we saw in the past. But for a sensible approach that would see applications examined on their individual merits.
“Taking in criteria such as integration with existing vegetation, trees or other aspects of the landscape, sufficient sight lines so as to guarantee road safety for motorists and pedestrians alike and naturally Planning Service would have every right to insist that the rural character is respected when it comes to citing and design.
“There has to some balance to be found between the previous policy and the new. One that would provide young people with the chance of living in the town land where they themselves have been reared and perhaps where their parents have passed on to them a possible site.