Northern Ireland proposes 'town centre first' policy

Out-Law News | 05 Feb 2014 | 2:10 pm | 1 min. read

Northern Ireland is set to adopt a 'town centre first' approach for the location of future retail and other town centre uses under proposals published by Northern Ireland Environment Minister Mark H Durkan. 

Durkan launched a consultation on a single Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) yesterday, which consolidates more than 20 separate planning policy statements on issues including housing and building in the countryside into one.

The draft SPPS includes proposals for a new strategic policy with a 'town centre first' approach and the use of sequential tests to identify retail and main town centre uses in Local Development Plans and decision making.  Durkan said the proposed policy was aimed at supporting and sustaining vibrant town centres across Northern Ireland.

“The SPPS sets out a new planning policy framework that delivers for business, with timely decisions that encourage investment and facilitate employment whilst protecting our environment, planet and people," said Durkan in a statement. "It provides clarity and certainty for all users of the reformed planning system. I pledged last month to speed up planning. SPPS is a key building block in achieving that pledge.”

“This is an exciting time for planning. I encourage everyone with an interest to contribute their views to this important consultation through our digital on line interactive portal. By working together, we can shape planning policy to ensure an efficient and fit for purpose planning system which delivers for all. My vision is for a better environment and a stronger economy. SPPS will help achieve that,” Durkan said.

The SPPS is expected to be finalised and published by the end of this year.