Independent and not-for-profit with 30 years' expertise in planning, community planning and engagement
 

News

Securing Better Development in Your Area

In November 2009, the Department of the Environment released a consultation paper - Draft Addendum to Planning Policy Statement 7, Safeguarding the Character of Established Residential Areas. This paper proposes new policies that will apply in residential areas. It includes policies intended to protect the character of existing residential areas, to secure better new apartment developments and conversions and to encourage the use of permeable paving.

Community Places briefed the Assembly Environment Committee on 4 February 2010, setting out how we believe that the new policies could be improved to ensure better new apartment developments that provide a range of accommodation types. Members of the Environment Committee were very interested in these issues.

A workshop was held on 12 February 2010 and attended by groups from across the region to assist them in responding to this policy. Participants raised a number of issues about the negative impacts of recent developments in their areas and how the new policy could help address these problems.

Consultation closes on 5 March 2010 and anyone interested in securing a better policy for new development in residential areas should respond. If you would like any further information, please contact us (telephone 9023 9444) or email elaine@communityplaces.info.

19 February 2010

Community Allotment Seminars

Groundwork NI has organised a series of best practice seminars on community allotments. The structured seminars will offer those with an interest in community gardening projects the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the benefits, challenges and sustainability issues in developing and maintaining a community based gardening project.

The seminars will held in:

  • Belfast on Thursday, 11 March 2010, 9.15 am to 4.30 pm; Groundwork NI, 63-75 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast (incorporating a site visit to Walkway Community Gardens, East Belfast);
  • Derry/Londonderryon Tuesday, 23 March 2010, 9.15 am to 4.30pm; Liberty Consortium,The Playtrail, 15 Racecourse Road, Derry/Londonderry (incorporating a visit to on-site allotments); and
  • Omagh on Wednesday, 24 March 2010, 9.15 am to 4.30 pm; GK House, Lisanelly Heights, Omagh (incorporating a site visit to Mullaghmore and Castleview Community Association allotments).

There no charges for individuals or groups who wish to attend these information seminars, lunch and refreshments will be served and transportation will be provided for the allotment site visits.  Contact Aidan McLoone at Groundwork to book a place (telephone 9074 9494 or email aidanmcloone@groundworkni.co.uk).

12 February 2010

Consultation on Draft High Hedges Bill

The Department of the Environment is currently seeking views on the draft High Hedges Bill. Minister of the Environment, Edwin Poots MLA has brought forward the Bill as there is currently no legislation in the region which covers the height or maintenance of a hedge. Under the proposed legislation a person may complain to their local council that the height of a hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable enjoyment of their domestic property (after having taken reasonable steps to resolve the problem with the hedge owner).

A hedge would have to meet the following criteria before a complaint could be made – it must: 

  • be formed wholly or predominantly by evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs;
  • consist of a line of two or more trees or shrubs;
  • measure more than two metres from ground level (measured on the hedge owner’s side);
  • act as a barrier to light or access;
  • affect residential property; and
  • be growing on land owned by someone other than the person making the complaint.

 For further information on the consultation please click here. The consultation runs until 1 March 2010. 

29 January 2010

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

Pages