Council seeks rural planning review

MAGHERAFELT District Council is to write to DOE Minister Alex Attwood seeking immediate publication of a review into the Rural Planning Policy Statement PPS21.

The call was made following a proposal from councillor Sean Mc Peake at last week’s full council meeting.

The Sinn Fein representative stated that planning applicants are continuing to experience difficulties in obtaining planning permissions for various reasons.

“These can be simply that the policy is not flexible enough to allow those people who wish to live in the countryside to do so or that it is often due to how the policy is interpreted by Planning Service officials within different areas,” he said.

“There needs to be a consistent approach to the policy application into the positioning and siting of dwellings and farm buildings.

“Where there are alternative and better sites away from the main farmyard, then these should be considered.”

Councillor McPeake added: “Since the publication of PPS21 over three years ago, the SDLP have been, quite rightly calling for greater improvements made to the policy which would allow for further scope for those seeking to obtain planning permission for a rural dwelling in the countryside.

“However, these calls seem to ring hollow as now that the SDLP now has has ministerial control of this particular portfolio since May last year there appears to be no evidence of any such improvements. We are calling for the immediate publication of the review which hopefully will go in some way to redress the deficits of the previous policy.”