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Rural Planning - changes will have impact wider than rural communities

1 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has warned that the draft rural planning guidelines (PPS 14) will have an impact far wider than just on rural communities.

Ms Gildernew said:

"If anyone thinks that these draft planning laws will only affect people who live in rural communities they are wrong. These draconian and restrictive proposals will force people out of the countryside, into towns and villages; it will damage fragile rural economies and undermine essential services, particularly rural schools.

"Forcing people into our towns and villages will push up house prices and rents, particularly in areas that are already struggling to meet housing need because of a lack of affordable and social housing. This problem will be compounded by the very severe limitations on housing growth created by restrictive area plans that set the limits on zoning and building in our rural towns and villages.

"These draft plans are badly thought out. There is little or no evidence to support the blanket ban and no real analysis of the consequences of trying to implement a strategy that will undermine the sustainability of rural communities and place greater burdens on our rural towns and villages that in many cases are busting at the seams and struggling with demands on social and physical infrastructure.

"What the debate about rural planning has failed to do, is recognise that part of the problem has been created by inconsistent, inefficient and incompetent planning decisions. It is a mistake to put in place a blanket ban on building in rural communities, as ban that will particularly hit the farming community, as a response to the failure of planning services to do its job properly." ENDS

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