Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan said that the Planning Service is in urgent need of reform as delays are damaging our economy. Danny previously commented in The Assembly criticising the rushed nature with which The Planning Bill was sent through The House.
“It is now apparent that the rushed nature of the Planning Bill has done nothing to improve the situation for applicants in Northern Ireland. In the current economic climate it is now more important than ever for the Planning Service to be efficient and to be fit for purpose.”
“The 2011-2015 Budget sees a cut in funding for the Planning Service from £10.4million in the year 2010/11 to £6.3million in the year 2011/12. Although I welcome the reduction in funding, I think it is important to remember that efficient spending is key. The Planning Service has an above average case-load per member of staff and this is clearly reflected in its inefficiency. We need to make urgent progress in the reform of the planning service. ”
“When a planning application is made by a business it is only right to assume that it will be dealt with quickly in order to give maximum benefit the economy. Job opportunities are now being delayed or possibly wasted, as planning applications take lengthy periods to process. It would be easy for a business to decide to locate elsewhere in the UK rather than face protracted delays in Northern Ireland.”
“A critical path doesn’t seem to exist within the planning consultation process at the minute. There appears to be no set system for gathering responses from those consulted and this is a contributing factor to delays. In order for The Service to become efficient clear guidelines need to be set out as to who is consulted in what order and when progress is made along the chain.”
“I believe we have the means at our disposal to actively encourage business into Northern Ireland, this can only be done if all institutions play their part, including the Planning Service.”