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NI Infrastructure Minister Acknowledges Planning System Inadequately Resourced & Needs Fixed

Northern Ireland’s infrastructure minister John O’Dowd has told Stormont there needs to be an “urgent and fundamental appraisal of the planning system”.

This recognition follows a Stormont debate where MLA’s discussed delays, under-resourcing, incomplete applications and a Planning Appeals Commission. 

According to the minister had agreed that this was a problem for all of the elements of the planning system as well as the commission, and while there is a lot of work to be done he stated that he was “up for the challenge”. 

During the Stormont debate he told MLA’s: “I accept that our planning system is not working to its full potential, but we need to be careful not to send out a message to investors here or potential investors overseas that you cannot do business here in terms of planning – we can.

“We will do everything within our power to support the development of new industries and the green economy, wherever it may be. We will do our best and work with them to improve it but let us not send out the message that you cannot do business here”. 

It was said that there has already been a planning improvement work programme established, which is moving forward by local and central government. The programme is believed to be broken down into key themes. 

The minister emphasised that it would be too expensive to appoint independent commissioners to take over some of the workload but that it would be kept under review. 

He went on to say: “planned to take some time to understand the progress that has been made and to ensure that we do everything possible to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our wider planning system”.

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