24 February 2010
A recent report by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has branded the Northern Ireland planning service “not fit for purpose”.
David Donaldson, a planning director from award-winning consultancy, WYG is concerned with the findings and emphasises the importance of an effective planning service in Northern Ireland, which can play a major role in stimulating Northern Ireland’s fragile economy.
He said: “Those seeking to bring forward economic development projects at the current time should be encouraged by the Planning Service and not frustrated by unnecessary bureaucracy and delay. The fact that only 32 per cent of all customers found the current service acceptable is a matter of very considerable concern.”
Mr Donaldson acknowledged that locally elected Ministers have helped to secure considerable improvements, particularly in respect of major projects and non-contentious applications. But he added: “Real improvements to the current system will only be secured when the planning authority and its various consultees demonstrate the willingness to facilitate and promote proposals, and engage positively with agents and developers in a genuine attempt to resolve any issues which may arise.
”While the planning process is often complex and divisive, the planning authority has a position of considerable responsibility and must strive to ensure that it delivers a positive impression of Northern Ireland as a place to do business.”