Review of the Planning Act,
Speaking following briefing members of the NI Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee on the Review of the Planning Act, Councillor Steven Corr (Belfast City Council) and Chair of NILGA’s Place-shaping and Infrastructure Policy and Learning Network said:
“We appreciated the opportunity to brief members of the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee this morning. While we welcome the planning review, we would have liked it to go further in addressing some of the issues faced by our member councils. Local government has faced some criticism of what was a new, untested planning system that commenced in 2015 and we hope this review will address at least some of the issues that have emerged over time.
“Councils and elected members continue to be frustrated by the fragmentation of place-shaping functions here, with responsibility for regeneration, public transport, local roads, housing, green spaces and rivers all sitting in different areas within government. In many other jurisdictions these functions and services sit within local government which allows for a more integrated locally-focused place-shaping approach. This reluctance to deliver wider place-shaping at a local level has, to some degree, created unnecessary delays, causing frustration and criticisms of our planning system.
“NILGA would welcome a much wider review of local government reform, encompassing planning, to achieve what were the initial aims of the Review of Public Administration. This would help to provide a proper suite of place-shaping powers in our councils, to improve the partnership work between the Department and local government and to realise local government as the local leaders and service delivery bodies they could be, and in fact, are elsewhere.”