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Rural Proofing Bill Consultation

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is running a public consultation exercise from 3 February to 16 March 2015 on proposals for a Rural Proofing Bill.  The proposed Bill would require policy makers to assess whether proposed policy is likely to have a different impact in rural areas compared with elsewhere.  It will support the equitable treatment of rural dwellers by requiring their needs and the impact on rural communities to be appropriately addressed in the development and delivery of policy and public services.  The consultation documents can be accessed on DARD's website

As part of the consultation exercise, DARD is hosting a series of public meetings to hear your views. The times and locations are:

  • Thursday, 19 February 2015 from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm in the Old Town Hall, Banbridge
  • Friday, 20  February 2015 from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm in Garvagh Community Building, Garvagh
  • Wednesday, 25 February 2015 from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm in CAFRE Loughry College (Cookstown)
  • Thursday, 26 February 2015 from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm in CAFRE Greenmount College (Co Antrim)
  • Monday, 2  March 2015 from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm in CAFRE, Enniskillen Campus
  • Tuesday, 3  March 2015  from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm in the Old Court House, Markethill
  • Wednesday, 4  March 2015  from 10.00 am  to 12.00 noon in The Pavilion, Stormont Estate, Belfast
  • Thursday, 5  March 2015 from 2.00 pm to  4.00 pm at Omagh Forum for Rural Associations, Omagh
  • Friday, 6 March 2015 from 2.00 pm to  4.00 pm in Glenshane House, Dungiven

To register to attend, or for more information, email: or telephone 028 9052 4106.

23 February 2015

Consultation on Draft Community Planning Guidance

The DoE is holding four public consultation events on the draft guidance on Community Planning to gather views to inform the guidance:

Register attendance by emailing with your name, organisation and confirming which event you would like to attend.  The consultation document is available to download from the DoE website.

10 February 2015

Environment Minister Faces Legal Challenge over Newry Out of Town Development

Traders in Newry are pursuing legal action over the granting of planning permission for a mixed use scheme on the outskirts of Newry. The proposal includes 70 industrial and business units, a supermarket, 14 homes, a coffee shop, car parking and general landscaping.

The Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade is calling for the planning decision to be quashed saying it will damage city centre investment particularly the extension to the Quays Shopping centre.

When making his decision Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, said he was satisfied the existing city centre retail offering was strong enough to compete with the new supermarket. However traders argue that the Department acted irrationally in the weight it gave to any economic benefits.  Further grounds of challenge include failure to comply with the Habitats Directive and the potential effects of pollution to Newry River.

The legal action will proceed to a full three day hearing in May 2015.

27 January 2015

Shaping Community Planning - Draft Statutory Guidance

The Department of the Environment has issued draft Statutory Guidance on Community Planning for consultation. The Guidance sets out roles and responsibilities for all those involved in Community Planning and how the Community Planning process should be developed and implemented.

The consultation document is available on the Department's website and the consultation period ends on 9 March 2015.  Community Places will be preparing its own response to the draft Guidance.  If you would like further information, please contact Louise O'Kane (telephone 9023 9444). 

12 January 2015

Planning Permission for Casement Park Quashed

Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents’ Association’s Judicial Review into the granting of planning permission for the redevelopment of Casement Park stadium has been successful.  In Belfast High Court today, Mr Justice Horner quashed the planning permission granted in December 2013.

We welcome the Court’s decision – it follows Mr Justice Horner’s judgement earlier in the week that the planning decision-making process was unlawful and fundamentally flawed.  This is an unprecedented victory for residents living in the vicinity of the existing stadium whom we helped through the Judicial Review process. 

Mr Justice Horner identified failures in the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed plan to redevelop the stadium and also found that the effect of bigger crowds on the surrounding roads network had not been properly examined.  Police concerns about safety issues in relation to a capacity crowd of 38,000 had not – it was heard – been relayed to the Environment Minister in his assessment of the application. 

Minister Durkan said:

“My Department acknowledges today’s court decision.  The Judge found that in reaching my decision on this planning application there were errors in how aspects were processed thus rendering the decision unlawful.  This is disappointing.  I will now carefully consider the full judgement and outcome of today’s decision”

We cannot stress enough how this case shows the need for our free, independent Planning Advice Service which helps disadvantaged communities and people to access, understand and effectively participate in the planning process.  Our front line service is particularly important when disadvantaged communities are met with large-scale, complex, technical planning proposals that will potentially impact and alter the fabric and function of their neighbourhoods.

Happy Christmas to Mooreland and Owenvarragh Residents’ Association – a long hard fight well won.

18 December 2014