Northern Ireland’s Chief Planner Fiona Planner Fiona McCandless visited Newry last week as staff form DOE Planning relocated to Newry Mourne and Down District Council offices. This is the first time staff from DOE and local councils have co-located and it marks a further stage towards the transfer of planning powers to local government in April 2015. This pathfinder project is aimed to help ensure the smooth transition of powers to local Councils and is part of the overall reform of local government. It also means that Newry people will have much closer access to planners. Speaking about the change in planning powers Fiona McCandless said: “Planning reform is about bringing forward improvements in the planning system. This includes a transfer of planning powers to local Councils and also enables communities to be better informed about proposals in their areas and contribute their views. The opportunity to co-locate DOE planners with Council Staff in Newry and Downpatrick allows us all to better prepare for transfer and explore how planning can be delivered most effectively and ensure business continuity is maintained. The initiative sees people in Newry having planners on their doorstep for the first time. Planning is being brought closer to the public and together with other new responsibilities and powers, this will enable the Council to be more effective more efficient and more responsive to local community and business needs; key benefits being delivered by local government reform.” Presiding Councillor of Newry Mourne and Down District Council Charlie Casey said: “The new Council of Newry, Mourne and Down is delighted to have been chosen as the pathfinder project to transfer planning services from central government to Council. We hope this will improve service delivery and transform the nature of interaction between the public and planning service on all planning matters. This pathfinder project will inform the way for the regional transfer of planning matters from April 1 2015.
7th October 2014