‘Discriminatory planning guidance needs shelved’

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has called on SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to scrap new Planning Advice Note (PAN) ‘Implementation of Strategic Planning Policy on Development in the Countryside’, that was issued to all local councils on 2 August 2021.

Carla Lockhart said: “The guidance issued to local Councils by the Department for Infrastructure, if implemented, will impose discriminatory conditions on those who wish to, or need to, live in the countryside.

“Those hoping to gain planning permission in the countryside already have a huge number of restrictions placed on them. This makes planning approval in the countryside extremely challenging to obtain.

“Yet what the Department want to do is to make that process even more onerous and more difficult to pass through successfully. The result would be placing new dwellings in impractical sites on farms, that would add dangers to occupants particularly those with young families who value that disconnect from the busy, but precarious, on farm dangers.

“Furthermore, it will result in a drop in rural populations over time. This will have a huge impact on rural schools, rural businesses, churches and other key aspects of rural life,” she added.

“We need the Minister, Nichola Mallon, to realise that life exists beyond Belfast. It is incumbent on her to shelve this policy, and instead look at ways to sustain and promote the rural way of life. I hope she acts soon.”

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