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Chief planner hails new Northern Ireland planning regime ‘a success’

Words: Roger Milne
Northern Ireland / Shutterstock_203530255

The Northern Ireland Executive’s chief planner Fiona McCandless says the transfer of planning powers to the new 11 ‘super councils’ has been a success.

One year after local government regained planning powers and responsibilities, McCandless told the BBC’s Inside Business programme that the Planning Service was pleased with the transition.

"The councils were sufficiently resourced to deal with the applications transferred to them,” she said. “They had the necessary skills and resources to deal with that.

“Time has proven that the backlog of cases that the department previously dealt with have been really significantly reduced.

"The councils now are dealing with the cases that have been submitted, more since 1 April last year."

She said officers and members had demonstrated “a huge level of professionalism”.

McCandless acknowledged that improvements to the planning system and further “capacity building” were needed. She told the programme that the challenge was to make sure the longer-term aims of the planning reforms were achieved, particularly in respect of public participation.

Image credit | Shuttershock