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Environment Minister welcomes Planning Service success in Londonderry

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Straightforward planning applications in Londonderry are now being processed in just 21 working days, thanks to a Streamlined Consultation pilot scheme.

The initiative from the Planning Service and the City Council in Londonderry has proved so successful that it is being extended to the Limavady council area.  A number of other council areas have also expressed an interest in the scheme.

The scheme is one of a range of initiatives announced by Environment Minister Arlene Foster in November 2007, as part of the reform of the Planning System.

Congratulating the Planning Service and the City Council on the success of the pilot, which is due to be completed in June 2008, Arlene Foster said, “Initial indications are very encouraging as we see the potential benefits of this reform measure. We have been able to achieve a significant reduction in the processing times for straightforward planning applications.  

“The scheme, if successful, should help deliver a more efficient and effective planning system, and already it has enabled us to deliver a much improved service to our customers.

Cllr Maurice Devenney, Chair of City Council’s Planning Committee, commented “The City Council have been delighted to play their part in delivering this new scheme which has meant faster planning decisions and clear benefits for applicants and the local development industry.

Principal Planner, Fiona McCandless, from the Londonderry Planning Office explained, “If the benefits of the new scheme are to be maximised, it is essential that applications are complete and contain all the information required to make a decision.

The Londonderry Planning Office has engaged with local architects and agents to explain the new arrangements and help them take full advantage of the streamlined process.   

This is the first scheme of this type in Northern Ireland.  An evaluation will be carried out after six months to determine the scheme’s success - after which, discussions on the rollout will take place with other councils.

Notes to Editors:

1.The pilot scheme was introduced to deal with the determination of straightforward planning applications as one of the short-term measures for improving operational performance.

2.The scheme, known as Streamlined Consultation, will be piloted by the Derry Divisional Planning Office and Derry City Council for a period of 6 months from December 2007.

3.On 1 May 2008 Limavady Council agreed to implement the scheme starting in June 2008.

4.Council consultation will take place on receipt of the application, and if the proposal is non contentious and there has been no request from a councillor for the application to be discussed at the monthly meeting, the division will proceed to issue the decision.

5.The scheme will accelerate the processing of all planning applications and lead to improved customer service.  It will facilitate the Council in its consideration and decision taking on major planning applications, and will allow councillors more time to focus on matters of wider public interest.  

6.For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.