Our new eleven councils take over the new planning system on Wednesday (April 1) and will follow what is seen as best practice worldwide.
This is because communities and local business folk and service people where relevant, will work with councillors to ensure that what we need gets built, and the environment and wildlife are protected, and it ensures the well-being of communities.
Experience has shown what a disaster the planners have been.
The triangle of Bankers, Developers, and Planners, have done great damage throughout Ireland, they have left eyesores and colossal debts, and the new councils will be short of money as a result.
If any one of them had pulled out of the damage it would not have happened.
The new councils can revoke disasters in the pipeline.
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA reported recently that Northern Ireland had over 24,000 uninhabited houses: Portstewart had 546 uninhabited houses in 2011 when Coleraine planners decided they wanted to destroy the animal-friendly field beside me by approving 47 more houses.
Planning permission should only be given for “sustainable” developments; “sustainable” means it meets an immediate need and provides a lasting benefit.
The planners as far as they can ride roughshod over our community and our wildlife; they took decisions that have left Portstewart and Castlerock without a hotel. Victims of bad planning have often despaired that the remote planners were beyond reach.
But we live in changed times and thanks to the internet all councillors can be found, all planning law can be found, and community friends can keep in touch. The new law requires an authority plan, and local plans for smaller areas, but these can be amended; they help councillors to understand how to ensure they approve what will benefit the area.
Councillors in future make the decisions on planning applications, and their code of practice requires them to be responsive to their communities including those councillors on the planning committee.
Planning is remarkable for uniting councillors as well as communities.
Get involved and insure communities have a much, much better planning future!