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Rural Planning - PPS 21Consultation - Make Your Voice Heard

10 December, 2008

Joint Chairperson of the Sinn Féin National Councillors Forum (NCF), Magherafelt Sinn Féin councillor Sean McPeake has called on everyone living in rural communities to make their voices heard in relation to new proposals on Rural Planning.

Announcing details of a public meeting to be held in The Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown on Monday 15th December at 7.30pm hosted by Mid-Ulster MLAs Francie Molloy and Michelle O'Neill and addressed by planning specialists, Councillor McPeake said:

"The Department of Environment has now published new proposals on RuralPlanning (called PPS 21) which will replace the previous disastrous plans drawn up by British Direct Rule Minister Jeff Rooker.

"Sinn Féin has worked hard to achieve progress on a number of key issues including:

  • a relaxation of the replacement dwelling criteria including the removal of the current 'abandonment test;
  • removal of agricultural need and the farm viability test with opportunities for additional dwellings on farms;
  • more potential for 'infill' gap sites;replacement or conversion of traditional style farm buildings to dwellings;
  • the reinstatement of Health and Personal circumstances;
  • the reinstatement of Dispersed Rural Communities; and
  • Groups of up to 14 social/affordable houses will be permitted in the countryside where there are identified areas of housing need.

"But while these changes are very welcome there continues to be a gap which must be addressed.

"Sinn Féin has lobbied continuously on behalf of the non-farming rural dweller and we believe that a mechanism can be devised through the work of the Independent Working Group set up the Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson to provide planning approval opportunities for this important sector of the community.

"There will be a four month consultation on the new Rural Planning Policy (PPS 21) and the Independent Working Group will commence work in tandem with the consultation. The work of the working group is to continue for one additional month after the end of PPS21 consultation to take into account its findings.

"Sinn Féin will be holding public meetings throughout the North in the coming weeks and months. Everyone is welcome to attend. The first in the series of these meetings will take place in The Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown on Monday 15th December. The public meeting will be addressed by planning specialists.

"It is vital that people come along and get involved in the campaign to protect rural communities and demand a future for rural Ireland." ENDS

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