Mackin welcomes Minister’s planning improvements

There was a local welcome this week for planning process improvements introduced by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

The new measures are aimed at speeding up the planning process in Northern Ireland.

They were swiftly welcomed by Councillor Uel Mackin, Chairman of Lisburn City Council’s Planning Committee

Mr Mackin said he was “broadly in agreement” with the areas set out to speed up the planning process.

He agreed that a simplified approach to planning would assist the public with an area, which could, he said, be quite complex.

He commented: “Of course, certain decisions do need more consideration than others.

“Not everything that is submitted to Planning is clear cut.

“But what I think is important is that the time which is required to be spent is spent in the right areas.”

Making sure the public’s voice was heard was vital, he said.

“Decisions need to be fully considered,” he said, “ and the views of local people must be heard.Local councils will be responsible for planning under the Review of Public Administration which will come into effect in 2015.

“I think that councillors, particularly because they are local to an area and know the area, will bring a wealth of input and experience .”

Mr Mackin also agreed with Minister Durkan’s comments in respect of access to planning case officers.

He said,“I also concur with the Minister’s statement that greater access to planning case officers will assist the public in this area; which by its nature can be quite a bureaucratic process.”