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A Letter to the Future for the Environment

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is asking its supporters to sign a "Letter to the Future" urging governments to invest in a healthy environment as well as a healthy economy - an environment which will tackle climate change and protect our seas, countryside and wildlife. Find out more and sign the letter online at www.rspb.org.uk

6 January 2010

Planning Appeals Commission Told to Reassess Traveller Application

Planning chiefs who rejected a Traveller family's appeal against being refused planning permission to retain a serviced site in a greenbelt area of Co Armagh have been ordered to reconsider the decision. A High Court judge ruled John Boswell's case should be reassessed because he was not satisfied that the suitability of any alternative accommodation had been evaluated.  Mr Boswell brought Judicial Review proceedings over a site he bought at Ballyduggan near Portadown. He has been living on the site since 2004. According to legal submissions his family has 'an abiding cultural aversion to living in conventional bricks and mortar housing' but can no longer travel due to health problems.

On the site are two caravans and a mobile home with a timber shed containing kitchen facilities. It is serviced with water, electricity and a septic tank. However, the land lies within a greenbelt area designated by the Craigavon Area Plan 2010. Mr Boswell was refused planning permission for retention of the serviced site due to its location, lack of exceptional circumstances and because there were no adequate sight lines between it and a public road. This decision was upheld by the Planning Appeals Commission in December 2008, paving the way for the case to be brought to the High Court. Mr Boswell's lawyers claimed the Commission had no regard for the absence of alternative accommodation for a Traveller family in the area. On the site are two caravans and a mobile home with a timber shed containing kitchen facilities. It is serviced with water, electricity and a septic tank. However, the land lies within a greenbelt area designated by the Craigavon Area Plan 2010.

Mr Boswell was refused planning permission for retention of the serviced site due to its location, lack of exceptional circumstances and because there were no adequate sight lines between it and a public road. This decision was upheld by the Planning Appeals Commission in December 2008, paving the way for the case to be brought to the High Court. Mr Boswell's lawyers claimed the Commission had no regard for the absence of alternative accommodation for a Traveller family in the area.

The Court heard how the Housing Executive has stated that it has not been able to meet the needs of the Traveller community in Craigavon. The judge said "I have not been satisfied that the Commissioner conducted an evaluation of the suitability of alternative accommodation". While stressing that the absence of any such alternative accommodation would not necessarily entitle Mr Boswell to planning permission in an environmentally protected area Mr Justice Weatherup ruled that the matter should be remitted back to the Planning Appeals Commission so that this aspect of the appeal could be reconsidered.

Community Places' Planner Elaine Devlin said "we are delighted that our support over many years has led to this successful outcome and we will continue to advise the Boswell family until this issue is resolved".

7 December 2009

Ministers Announce Introduction of New Transport Scheme for Rural Dwellers

Transport Minister Conor Murphy and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew have announced the introduction of two new rural transport schemes. These new schemes have been developed to help meet the transport needs of rural dwellers. The new Dial-a-Lift services will be available to members of Rural Community Transport Partnerships. These services are similar to the Door-to-Door services that are available in urban areas and are designed to allow individuals who have limited access to transport to get to local services and facilities.

The second scheme announced is the Assisted Rural Transport Scheme (ARTS). This scheme is being supported by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and will allow eligible members of Rural Community Transport Partnerships to obtain concessionary travel when using community transport. This initiative, which is being launched as a pilot, will help ease the financial burden on rural dwellers. The Ministers fully recognise the importance of transport for people in rural areas and their Departments have worked closely together to introduce the Dial-a-Lift scheme and Assisted Rural Transport Scheme pilot. Both these initiatives will improve access to essential local services for users and will be available from early December 2009.

13 November 2009

What Can You Build without Planning Permission?

Permitted development is building works that can be undertaken without planning permission. These are normally small in scale and have little impact on neighbouring properties. 

Planning Service is proposing to make a number of changes to what is and what isn't allowed and is seeking views from the public on these. The consultation paper is available on Planning Service's website.

The proposals aim to:

  • be easy to understand;
  • be proportionate to the impacts of such development;
  • be simple to operate for everyone including the planning authority; and
  • control adverse impacts on the local environment.

Consultation closes on 22 January 2010. If you or your group would like help or advice with understanding the proposals or responding to the consultation, please contact us on 9023 9444.

13 November 2009

Annual General Meeting

This year's Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, 13 November 2009 at 12.30 pm in our offices at 2 Downshire Place, Belfast. All Community Places members are invited to attend the meeting to receive our Annual Report 2009, audited accounts and appoint the Board of Directors for the forthcoming year. The meeting will end with lunch at 1.00 pm. Please contact Celine (celine@communityplaces.info) if you are able to attend (by Tuesday, 10 November 2009).

30 October 2009

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