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Rural dwellers should respond to Planning consultation before March 31st

23 March, 2009


North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on the rural public to respond to the consultation on draft PPS21 (Planning in the Countryside). Speaking after chairing a public meeting on Rural Planning in Rasharkin Mr McKay said:   "In November the Department of Environment published new proposals on Rural Planning (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 to provide planning approval opportunities for this important sector of the community. “It is vitally important that members of the public respond to this consultation on PPS21 as it could detrimentally affect the sustainability of rural communities which will have a knock-on effect on rural businesses, post offices, GAA clubs, etc.   “The consultation period ends on 31st March and I would urge rural dwellers to submit their views on the future of rural planning to [email protected] or by post to: Draft PPS21 Consultation, Planning and Environmental Policy Group, 12th Floor River House, 48 High Street, BELFAST, BT1 2AW.” ENDS

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