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Government Proposing Cuts to Big Lottery Fund

The Government is now consulting on its plans to change how the lottery good cause money is divided between arts, heritage, sports and the Big Lottery Fund. If these plans go ahead they will have a major impact on local community groups. Opposition to the cuts needs to be voiced before the closing date of 21 August 2010. 

Under plans from the Westminster coalition Government the apportionment to the Big Lottery Fund will be cut to 40%. In return for the cut of 50% to 40% for the Big Lottery Fund the Government is planning for 100% of Big Lottery Fund funding to be committed to the voluntary and community sector only - however, this is not outlined in the Draft Order under consultation but contained as a commitment in a letter from the Minister, Jeremy Hunt.

The changes would be introduced in two phases in April 2011 and April 2012. The current spending plans of the Big Lottery Fund will be affected by the reduction in income over the period to 2012 and beyond. This will have a direct and negative impact on the funding to the voluntary and community sector. 

NICVA is keen to hear responses on the following questions:

  1. Do you have concerns about the decrease in funding allocated to the Big Lottery Fund?
  2. Do you have any concerns about the increase in allocations to the Arts Council, Sport NI or Heritage Lottery Fund?
  3. What assurances would you like to receive on the level of funding received by the voluntary and community sector from the National Lottery in relation to funding allocation to the Big Lottery Fund and the other lottery distributors?

Responses to NICVA should be directed to Neil Irwin ( You can also send your views directly to Government at

The Rural Community Network is also working on this issue and will be organising consultation events - for further iinformation please contact

30 June 2010

PPS 21 Explained

Our Factsheet on PPS 21 - explaining all the policies in plain English - has now been published. Click here to download a copy. Please telephone any of our planners to discuss any planning issues you might have (9023 9444) or call into our next planning advice session which is being held on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 from 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm at Omagh Community House, Drumragh Avenue, Omagh.

14 June 2010

Planning Permission in the Countryside - Policy Finally Published

The long awaited policy on planning in the countryside has now been published. Minister for the Environment Edwin Poots launched Planning Policy Statement 21 on 1 June 2010 - it replaces the draft policy which has been in place since November 2008. 

Key policy changes include:

  • the introduction of a new policy: 'New Dwellings in Existing Clusters'. Planning permission will be granted for new dwellings at an existing cluster of development where: the cluster lies outside of a farm and if it consists of four or more buildings; it appears as a visual entity; at identified focal points (such as a church or a school); integrates into the existing landscape and will not have an adverse impact on residential amenity;
  • a new criterion which states that planning permission for farm diversification proposals will only be granted in conjunction with existing policy if it can be demonstrated that the business is currently active and established;
  • a new criterion for houses on farms regarding permission to develop on an alternative site where there are demonstrable health and safety reasons or verifiable plans to expand the farm; and
  • a definition of 'active farming', 'curtilage' and 'built up frontage'.

Planning Service is holding over 2,400 applications which would have been refused under draft PPS 21. All of these will now be re-assessed under PPS21 and decisions will be issued as soon as possible. PPS 21 is available to download from and from local Divisional Planning Offices. If you would like any advice on any aspect of the new policy please contact Claire, Elaine or Louise at Community Places (telephone 9023 9444). Click here to download our Factsheet on PPS 21. 

8 June 2010

Lottery Funding to Improve Energy Efficiency in Community Venues

The Big Lottery Fund launched its Energy Efficient Venues Programme on 19 May 2010. It will run for two years and will provide funding for groups to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and other venues. Two sizes of grant are available - one from £2,000 to £10,000 and another from £15,000 to £50,000 - and groups can use the funding for a range of energy efficiency measures from installing double glazing, replacing inefficient heating systems and draught-proofing to installing renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and biomass heating. 

Community Places has been appointed by the Big Lottery to provide technical information, support and advice to groups. We will give advice on energy efficiency measures; planning permission and building control processes; accessibility and sustainable development; and tendering for contractors and installers. We will also guide groups through undertaking an Energy Audit (which is a requirement of the larger grant application process). 

View our Energy Efficient Venues webpage.

24 May 2010

Planning Reform - Community Lobby Successes

The Department of the Environment has issued its decisions on the future shape of planning in the region. Community lobbying by members of Community Places has been successful in: 

  • protecting everyone's right to be heard at public inquiries on planning issues;
  • winning the legal right for communities to be consulted on major developments before planning applications are submitted;
  • securing a statutory link between Community Plans and Area Plans;
  • gaining acceptance of the need for Development Plans to support both social and sustainable development, assist in tackling disadvantage and poverty and promoting inclusion and equality.

Two other major issues have been recognised as needing further consideration in the future. These are: Third Party Right of Appeal (which was supported by 59% of responses) and Community Infrastructure Levy (developers' contributions) which was supported by 90% of community and voluntary groups and 43% of business and development responses. The full report is available on Planning Service's website and further details on the community issues are available from Community Places. 

31 March 2010