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Rural Planning - Final call for submissions on PPS 21

25 March, 2009 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has issued a final call for submissions to the consultation on Rural Planning (PPS 21) ahead of the deadline on March 31st.  

Speaking ahead of public a meeting in South Down tonight on Rural Planning (Wednesday 25th March) and a West Tyrone Farmers Forum in Greencastle tomorrow night Ms de Brún said that people from our rural communities should make their voices heard to ensure that there were further much needed changes to the draft rural planning regulation to ensure that non farming rural dwellers could build in rural areas in a sustainable fashion. 

Ms de Brún said:  

“No one doubts that lax application of planning law in the past allowed for unchecked building for profit without regard to the environment. The response to that situation needs to ensure that there can still be sustainable rural communities and that rural dwellers can build in a sustainable fashion. It is vital that people from our rural communities make their voices heard during the consultation on PPS 21. The deadline for submissions to the consultation on rural planning is next week, March 31st and people need to send submissions into the Department of the Environment by then. 

“When the new proposals on Rural Planning (PPS 21) were first published in November Sinn Fein said that while there had been significant progress that it was essential that the key issue of the non farming rural dweller was addressed.  

“There was 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; 

Groups of up to 14 social/affordable houses will also now be permitted in the countryside where there are identified areas of housing need.

“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 important that members of the public respond to this consultation on PPS21. Those who have expressed fears to us about the sustainability of rural communities and the knock-on effect on rural businesses and post offices need to submit these views officially as part of the consultation also. 

“The consultation period ends on 31st March and I would urge rural dwellers to submit their views on the future of rural planning to the DoE." ENDS  

Notes to Editors  

Submission should be sent to:   [email protected]> [email protected]  or by post to: Draft PPS21 Consultation, Planning and Environmental Policy Group, 12th Floor River House, 48 High Street, BELFAST, BT1 2AW  

The Rural Planning meeting in South Down will be held in the Rathfriland Community Centre on Wednesday 25th March at 8.30pm.  

The West Tyrone Farmers Forum in Greencastle will be held in Greencastle Community Centre on Thursday 26th March at 7.30pm.

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