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2014 Planning Policy Responses

RTPI NI is asked to comment on various consultation documents. Members' views have been taken into account in all responses submitted.  Consultation documents are usually discussed within the Branch Executive Committee.

Planning Reform & Transfer to Local Government: Proposals for Subordinate Legislation - Phase 2 Public Consultation

The Department of the Environment (DOE) undertook a two phased public consultation apporach on proposals for subordinate legislation for the reform of the planning system and the transfer of the majority of planning functions to the newly elected 11 district councils.  The day one essentials have been prioritised within Phase 1.  Phase 2 relates to Simplified Planning Zones, levels of fixed penalties and modification and discharge of planning agreements.  You can view RTPI NI response here.

Draft Guidance Costs Awards in Planning and Related Appeals

The Planning Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, will empower the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) to make orders as to the costs of the parties in planning and related appeals.

The draft guidance, published October 2014, explains how the Commission envisages that the power will be used. You can view RTPI NI response here.

The Draft Local Government (Community Planning Partners) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015

In October 2014 the The Department of the Environment (DOE) published the consultation seeking the views from consultees on its proposals in relation to the naming of statutory community planning partners. Statutory community planning partners are those bodies or persons that will be required to participate in the community planning process.  RTPI NI response to this document can be view here.

Guidance on Planning Element of Councillors' Code of Conduct

As part of the review of local government the majority of planning functions will transfer to the new 11 councils on 1 April 2015. The Local Government Act (NI) 2014 introduced a new ethical regime to local government. As part of this regime, the Department of the Environment (the Department) issued a Code of Conduct (the Code) for councillors, which was approved by the Assembly on 27 May 2014. Part 9 of the Code, which contains the planning element, is not due to take effect until 1 April 2015. The Department undertook to provide guidance for councillors on the planning element of the Code and to consult on this guidance.  RTPI NI response to the guidance can be viewed here.

Draft PPS22: Affordable Housing and Developers' Contributions for Affordable Housing

In June 2014 the Department of the Environment (DOE) and the Department for Social Development (DSD) jointly published the draft affordable housing policy documents for consultation.  The consultation closed in September 2014.

DSD published the draft policy behind the scheme, 'Developer Contributions for Affordable Housing'; this consultation sought views on the proposed content of the policy and the suggested level of contribution.

The DOE consultation paper, Draft Planning Policy Statement 22 (PPS22) 'Affordable Housing', provided details on how developer contributions could be delivered. RTPI NI's response can be accessed here; similarly a response on Developers' Contributions for Affordable Housing was sent to DSD

Planning Reform & Transfer to Local Government: Proposals for Subordinate Legislation - Phase I Public Consultation

As part of the Department's wider programme of local government reform and specifically the transfer of planning powers to new councils in April 2015 subordinate legislation is required to wholly enact powers already established in the Planning NI Act 2011.  This subordinate legislation is necessary to fully introduce reforms to the planning system and transfer responsibility for the majority of planning functions to the new councils.

In total more than 20 pieces of subordinate legislation are required over a short period of time so to keep it manageable the Department has issued the consultation in two phases.

The Phase 1 consultation paper, which closed in 20 August 2014, in the Department's own words dealt with the "day one essentials" necessary for councils to be able to operate a fully functioning planning service and deal with existing planning applications and enforcement cases already in the system.

The key Phase 1 proposals relate to the following elements of the planning process:

  • local development plans;
  • statements of community involvement;
  • the new three-tier hierarchy of applications i.e. local, major and regionally significant;
  • the new and revised procedures for managing applications through the system;
  • listed buildings;
  • and management of applications relating to land of interested parties e.g. council-owned land.

This Phase 1 consultation was an important opportunity for RTPI NI to make a response on what is one of the final pieces of the planning reform jigsaw. RTPI NI's response can be accessed here.

A Draft Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) for NI

On 4 February 2014 the Minister for the Environment, Mark H Durkan published a draft Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) for NI for a 12 week consultation period which ended on 29 April 2014.

During this period RTPI NI held a consultation event for our members in order to gauge their views and opinions on this important and eagerly awaited policy document.  This event held in March 2014 was attended by over 80 members.  Key speakers at the event were: Philip McGowan, SPPS Team Leader and two planning consultants, Michael Burroughs and David Donaldson, outlined their opinions on the content and way forward for this single strategic policy document. The event included a lively and well informed debate. The views gathered at the event together with those of the RTPI Ni's Policy Group helped formulate RTPI NI's submission, a copy of which can be accessed here.

In addition RTPI NI agreed to facilitate a series of roundtable discussions on behalf of DOE.  These took place during the first week in April and were with a range of stakeholders: business interests, community/academic interests, environmentalists, and central and local government.  RTPI NI facilitated these sessions and prepared an independent report of the findings, which was submitted to DOE in May 2014.