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Joint project launched on NI planning powers

Words: Roger Milne

Northern Ireland's environment minister Mark H Durkan has announced a joint project between the Department of the Environment and Newry, Mourne and Down Council which is designed to prepare for the transfer of planning powers.

Under this initiative Newry residents will have planners on their doorstep for the first time.

At present DoE Planning for Newry, Mourne and Down operates from Rathkeltair House, Downpatrick and Marlborough House, Craigavon. 

By the end of this month (September) experienced planners from the DoE Area Planning Team will relocate to council sites in Downpatrick and Newry, where they will work alongside future council colleagues to ensure a normal planning service is maintained for the area covered by the new council. Planning functions are due to transfer from central government to local government on 1 April 2015.

Durkan said: “This project will help shape how councils will deliver planning, bringing it closer to the public in the new Newry Mourne and Down Council area post April 2015.”

Presiding councillor of Newry, Mourne and Down Council Charlie Casey said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as the pathfinder project to transfer planning services from central government to council resulting in greater local accessibility for everyone.

“We hope this new means of service delivery will transform the nature of interaction between the public and planning service on all planning matters. “