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Planning policy must allow rural communities to grow

22 September, 2004

Sinn Féin newly appointed spokesperson on Rural Regeneration, Newry Armagh MLA Pat O' Rawe has welcomed moves by officials in the Department of Regional Development to get to grips with the issue of rural planning and the increasing number of single dwellings in the country side.

Meeting with DRD officials today, Mrs. O' Rawe acknowledged the huge growth of rural planning applications and, while recognising the demand for rural housing, agreed that it was important to care for the countryside, sustain green belts and protect areas of outstanding natural beauty from over development.

Speaking following the meeting, which dealt with policy relating to planning of rural dwellings, Mrs. O' Rawe said:

"With more and more people moving to the countryside it is important that planning policy takes account of the wider issues of development such as environmental impact and sustainability.

"However, it is vital that rural communities have the ability to develop and grow.

"This is about achieving a balance that does not disadvantage the future of rural communities while ensuring that this is done in a way where housing fit's into the rural surroundings. We hope that this meeting has given DRD officials an idea of Sinn Fein's position on planning in rural areas but we will be providing a detailed written response to the departmental consultation. We expect the department to take our concerns and advice on board when drawing up any further policy." ENDS

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