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Amendment to Planning Policy for Traveller Accommodation

Environment Minister Alex Attwood has just launched consultation on an amended policy aimed at meeting the particular accommodation needs of Travellers. This is in response to our work over many years (with Craigavon Travellers Support Committee and others) to get changes to the current policy which in our view treats the Traveller community unfairly. The amendment provides policy for serviced sites for Travellers outside settlement limits (which are not permitted under current planning policy).

Over the coming months we will be working with Traveller groups to advise and help them respond to the consultation.

The consultation document (Draft Policy HS 3 (Amended) of PPS 12 - Housing in Settlements) can be downloaded here. The consultation closes on 30 September 2011.

8 July 2011

What do you think of the Planning System?

Friends of the Earth is undertaking a survey to find out what people think of the planning system. It wants to hear about people's experiences of the system - both good and bad. In launching the survey, James Orr (Director of Friends of the Earth) said:

"This is your opportunity to tell us about your stories and your experiences. Whether you are in business, government , a community group or an individual we want to hear your views. If people believe the planning system is failing we want to know why and to hear their evidence. If the planning is working well for you, we want to hear the success stories."

You can complete the survey by clicking here or you can download a paper copy from Friends of the Earth's website. Further information on the survey is available from Friends of the Earth (telephone 9023 3636).

6 June 2011

RCN Workshops on Strategic Framework for Community Development

The Rural Community Network is facilitating the development of a Strategic Framework for Community Development for Northern Ireland. A series of workshops has been organised for June 2011 to engage directly with a wide range of people involved in Community Development practice. This ranges from volunteers, practitioners, managers and policy makers from different sectors who share a common commitment to the values and principles of Community Development. The framework will:

  • set out the current context of community development work in the region;
  • articulate the significance and value that community development offers;
  • show how community development should be integrated into future policy and programmes


Tyrone - Monday, 6 June 2011, Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh

Armagh - Monday, 13 June 2011, City Hotel, Armagh

Antrim - Monday, 20 June 2011, Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim

Belfast - Friday, 24 June 2011, NICVA, Belfast

Down - Wednesday, 8 June 2011, Canal Court Hotel, Newry

Derry/Londonderry - Wednesday, 15 June 2011 , Everglades Hotel, Derry/Londonderry

Fermanagh - Wednesday, 22 June 2011, Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

With the exception of Belfast, all workshops commence with a hot buffet at 6.00 pm and finish at 8.30 pm. The Belfast workshop will commence at 10.00 am and end with lunch at 1.00 pm.

To register, please contact Sarah Christie at Rural Community Network on 8676 6670 or email

17 May 2011

Is Economic Development Always More Important than Social and Environmental Issues?

This is the core question at the heart of two proposed changes to planning policy across the whole region. The two draft Planning Policy Statements (PPS 23 and PPS 24) are out for consultation until 6 May 2011. The incoming Minister of the Environment will have the findings of the consultation on his or her desk shortly after taking up office. If the Minister decides to adopt the proposed changes it will alter the course of planning for years to come.

Draft PPS 24 is three sentences long and as such is one of the shortest Planning Policy Statements ever drafted. It simply proposes that "where the economic implications of a proposal are significant" then all social and economic issues can be outweighed. If approved, PPS 24 will effectively sit above all other Planning Policy Statements. Those submitting proposals under the new policy would be asked to set out the economic implications.

Draft PPS 23 is called Enabling Development and while more complicated than draft PPS 24 it is similar in intent. The draft proposes that a development proposal which "is contrary to established planning policy and … would not be permitted" may be allowed where it subsidises a development which:

  • involves a place of heritage value (eg historic building, park or garden); or
  • is of public benefit (eg social, health, leisure facilities); or
  • removes "undesirable use" on land owned by the applicant.

We have prepared a summary of the two policy proposals and will send it to all members and other community groups interested in planning issues. We will also give advice to groups who are thinking about responding to the consultation.

18 April 2011

Awards of £5,000 for Spaces for Young People

Awards of up to £5,000 are available for the provision of spaces for young people to use. The spaces can be currently underused or unused. The idea is that the space will become a space for creative, cultural or sporting activities by young people. The Awards are open to individuals over 16 and anyone can apply, as long as young people benefit from the project. The closing date is 5 May 2011 (noon). The Spaces4Change application form and Guidance notes for applicants is available as an online application on:


13 April 2011