Attwood Moves on PAC Reports 7 June 2012
Attwood moves to create certainty on PAC Reports on BMAP and BNMAP
Alex Attwood has published Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) reports detailing
objections on the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP) and Banbridge Newry and
Mourne Area Plan (BNMAP).
The Minister departed from his Departments long established practice and, in the interest of certainty for all involved, has made the PAC Reports available today.
Alex Attwood said: This is a break with the past. It aims to create more certainty for landowners, investors, business people and the communities of Belfast (BMAP) and Banbridge, Newry and Mourne (BNMAP).
I believe this departure from the orthodoxy around plans is a very different way to go about the local development plans.
I am rightly told to be decisive, that planning must enable development, that good planning is Plan–led, that individuals and investors welcome certainty. I agree. That is why I am proceeding in this way.
It has been the practice on area plans that, only after DOE has fully considered and interrogated the recommendations of the PAC, plans are adopted in full or with amendments and published.
Work on the Belfast plan started 11 years ago; the draft was published in November 2004; a public inquiry ended in May 2008. I received the last part of the PAC conclusion in January 2012. Banbridge, Newry and Mourne began in 2000 and I received the PAC Report in March 2012. This is the context for this major shift in how DOE and I as DOE Minister take forward plans.
I want to make one matter very clear. A question in everyones mind will be what is the status of recommendations in the PAC Reports now that they are public and how can this be relied upon?
Although my Department is ultimately responsible for making the final decision on the recommendations made by the PAC, where the PAC recommendations are supportive of the contents of the Draft Plans, it is likely that my Department will accept these recommendations, unless there is a very good reason not to.
The delay in the finalization of BMAP has been particularly frustrating for many people who have been involved in the process. Given the need for certainty in the current economic situation, I believe that my decision to publish the PAC Reports for BMAP and BNMAP demonstrates commitment to open and decisive government, and to good planning.
The PAC Reports are now available on the DOE Planning website, http://www.planningni.gov.uk together with a Ministerial Statement which provides guidance on the status of the Reports.
Minister Attwood concluded: I realise the importance of development plans as a basis for rational and consistent decisions relating to development proposals, and this will provide some certainty in the interim period, prior to the long awaited adoption of BMAP next year.