Rural planning crisis cannot be brushed under the carpet
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has said that the British direct rule Minster responsible for planning, Jeff Rooker, cannot brush the rural planning crisis under the carpet.
Mr McElduff said:
"Jeff Rooker cannot brush the crisis in rural planning under the carpet.
"It is totally wrong to try and tackle the planning backlog by stripping away democratic accountability and diminishing consultation. The best response would be to get more planning officers on the ground. Instead the planning service is dealing with the backlog it is responsible for by punishing applicants at the point of entry.
"This means that rural dwellers and particularly young couples are finding it increasingly difficult to build new homes in the country. People are literally being forced into towns to the detriment of the rural way of life.
"The decision to end site meetings is just another example of the inflexible and bureaucratic approach to planning. Office based meetings are no substitute to getting planning officer on the ground. The site meeting is a valuable tool in ensuring that people who want to build homes in the country do so in a manner that integrates with the surrounding environment.
"Unless there is a greater sense of realism and greater flexibility the result will be that the long term viability of rural communities will be threatened." ENDS