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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

Casement Decision Unlawful

Community Places welcomes the High Court decision made earlier today that the planning process which led to the granting of planning permission for the redevelopment of Casement Park was unlawful.  Colm Bradley, our Director, said:

“We gave professional planning advice  to the Residents’ Association (MORA) and the residents of both the immediate area and the wider west Belfast area from the outset.  This ensured that their voices were heard and their views represented during both the planning application process and this judicial review.  The dedication and resilience of the members of the Association has been remarkable throughout their long campaign.

This case highlights the great need there is 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.

This decision of the court  is a victory for MORA and the residents of greater west Belfast as well as community groups across the region in their endeavours to exercise their right to meaningful consultation and participation in the planning process. “

15 December 2014

Partnership Panel Holds First Meeting

The new Partnership Panel for Northern Ireland held its first meeting on 2 December 2014. 

The Panel - made up of Executive Ministers, councillors from the 11 new councils and NILGA - has been established as part of the programme of Reform of Local Government.  The Panel aims to improve co-ordination between Government departments and councils and help deliver better outcomes for local communities. 

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, who chairs the Panel said: “This is an important forum where key decision makers from central and local government will come together to develop joined-up solutions and improve the delivery of local services. Through joint policy development and better operational collaboration, it will help us tackle the issues that really matter to people”.

The meeting also discussed the current position of the Reform programme, work planning and budget issues.

3 December 2014

Regeneration Bill to be Implemented in April 2016

Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA, has confirmed that the legislation to effect the transfer of a range of powers to the new councils, will now be in place from 1 April 2016, as opposed to 1 April 2015 (as had been previously agreed).  The Minister’s full statement is available on the Assembly’s website.

12 November 2014

Consultation Launched on New Community Planning Partners

Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, has launched a consultation to determine which organisations should be community planning statutory partners.

Under local government reform, councils will have a new duty of Community Planning from 1 April 2015. This involves bringing together all the services and functions that are delivered in a council area and producing a Community Plan that sets out the future direction of that area. The purpose of the Plan is to improve service delivery for the benefit of citizens.

The DoE is now consulting on the legislation to name the statutory community planning partners that will be required on every community planning partnership. Councils will also have the flexibility to appoint further non-statutory partners to help deliver the particular priorities identified for their area.

Minister Durkan said: “Community Planning will help us work together to improve the social, economic and environmental well being of our council areas. It’s all about partnership working and best using the available resources to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“Councils in Scotland, England and Wales have been successfully operating Community Planning for the last 10 to 15 years. This is now an exciting opportunity for Northern Ireland; one that will give councils, agencies and the wider community a chance to collaborate and be more flexible to the particular needs of their area.”  He added: “This consultation will ensure that we have the right organisations around the table so that Community Planning can start in earnest next April.”

The consultation will close on 12 December 2014. The document is available to view and respond to online on the DoE's website.

21 October 2014

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