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RTPI Northern Ireland working with government towards a single planning policy document

24 January 2013

Roisin Willmott.jpgRoisin Willmott, Head of Northern Ireland, and Claire Williamson, RTPI Northern Ireland's policy officer, met Alex Attwood, Environment Minister for Northern Ireland earlier this week to discuss how best to prepare a single planning policy statement. Following that meeting, it was agreed that the RTPI will hold a summit with stakeholders from across Northern Ireland to draw on the widest experience possible to ensure that the single planning policy is the best it can be.

Pictured: Roisin Willmott.

 On Tuesday (22nd January) Minister Attwood referred to the meeting in the second reading of Northern Ireland's Planning Bill:

 "I have just come from a meeting with the Royal Town Planning Institute. What was the purpose of that meeting?  It was to work with the institute in the rundown to April to have a summit convened by the institute but with an input from the Department to look at the proposal for a single planning policy statement.  We have multiple planning policy statements in Northern Ireland, far too many to mention.  If you go to Scotland and Wales - Wales started this process - you will find that they have a single planning policy statement.  What does that do?  It captures, in a smaller number of words and in a more accessible format, a guide to the planning system to ensure that those who have an interest in it - whether a developer, an applicant, a citizen or a community - have a pathway through the planning system, rather than having to look at multiple documents and try to work out which is the most relevant to their interests. 

We are working with the Royal Town Planning Institute and on our own to work up a single planning policy statement, which, in my view, has to be in place by the time of a transfer of functions to the local councils to ensure that the planning system is more intelligible and more of an aid to all those who have an interest in planning generally or specifically.  That is where a lot of the further working-out of the law will have its place, but I am mindful that, in the interim, the planning policy statements, the guidance, the High Court decisions and so on will be the architecture around which the law will revolve."

Roisin Willmott said: "The agreement that the RTPI holds a summit to involve stakeholders from across Northern Ireland came out of a very positive meeting with Minister Attwood. We can draw on our and other stakeholders' experience ensure that Northern Ireland has an effective, efficient and distinctive single planning policy document. It is good news for planning in Northern Ireland."