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Millions wasted as planners tied up working on ‘redundant’ council plans

3 September, 2008

Sinn Féin Planning Spokesperson, Cathal Boylan MLA has called on the Environment Minister Sammy Wilson to intervene after discovering that money, time and energy is being wasted by planners working on plans for local councils that will become redundant when the new councils come into existence in 3 years.

Mr Boylan said:

"Local planners are wasting money, time and effort working on local council 'Area Plans' that will soon become redundant.

"This is insane to waste this money, time and expertise when planners could be released to address the substantial planning backlog or to develop plans relevant to the proposed councils.

"Nine of the councils outside Belfast have already published draft plans which relate to areas not aligned with the proposed Review of Public Administration (RPA) districts. All of these plans will be effectively scrapped by the new councils around the time they are expected to be adopted, or in many cases even before they get that far. There are also draft plans almost ready for publication in another seven of the 26 existing council areas.

"Dozens of highly skilled planning officials are at this moment working on such development plans in many divisional planning offices across the north, whilst applications for planning permission are not being dealt with.

"At any given time there are hundreds of planning applications stuck in the current system for over 12 months, which could be worth up to £6 billion to the local economy, and the vast majority of these would be approvable.

"Sammy Wilson needs to intervene and release these planners who are working on plans that will become redundant before they come into effect and get them working on tackling the planning backlog and planning for the way local councils will be organised in the future." ENDS

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