Planning Advice Note ‘negatively affecting’ countryside

Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon, has been asked to withdraw the Planning Advice Note that has been ‘negatively affecting’ rural planning decisions.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 9:44 am
Infrastructure Committee chairman, Jonathan Buckley MLA.
Infrastructure Committee chairman, Jonathan Buckley MLA.

The Planning Advice Note (PAN) was issued to local councils to provide a ‘clarification’ of guidance on planning in the countryside.

However, it has been widely interpreted in such a way that more restrictions have been imposed, particularly surrounding in-fill policy and farm 1 in 10 policy in the countryside.

A majority of the Infrastructure Committee agreed to write to Minister Mallon calling on her to withdraw the Planning Advice Note, following a briefing from the Chief Planning Officer and officials from the Department for Infrastructure earlier this week.

Chairperson of the committee, Jonathan Buckley MLA, said he is “perplexed” by the department’s assertion that the Planning Advice Note is “not a change in policy” given that so many stakeholders, councils and others have provided evidence to the contrary and demonstrated the “difficulty this note is causing”.

“It is only fair that an issue, having this extensive impact, should be considered fully and in discussion with those concerned before implementation,” Mr Buckley stated.

The committee raised the concerns of a number of district councils, the Ulster Farmer’s Union and the Rural Community Network, all of which advised that the advice note was a departure from the usual planning guidance and policy, and was negatively affecting planning decisions.

During the briefing, officials advised that the planning guidance was consulted on in 2016 and did not need to be reviewed for a Planning Advice Note.

Based on the evidence presented at the meeting, a majority of the committee were of the opinion that the minister should withdraw the advice note.

The committee believes that a new consultation with those affected should be undertaken and the minister should withdraw the advice note until such a consultation has taken place.