A controversial planning policy in Northern Ireland will remain for another six months, despite a High Court ruling that judged the Department of Regional Development was acting ‘ultra vires’.
The policy, which effectively bans any new single dwellings in rural areas, is enshrined in Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 14, and will remain in place while the province’s new administration reviews its position.
The government has already announced that the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment will take over rural planning policies, and environment minister Arlene Foster has asked for six months to draw up a new draft of PPS 14.
According to the province’s planning service, more than 4,500 applications for single dwellings were made between March 2006 – when PPS 14 was introduced – and September this year when the High Court ruled against the policy. Since then, a further 1,900 applications have been received.
Due to the uncertainty over whether PPS 14 had been quashed or not, Foster has agreed that those who submitted applications between September 7 and October 25 will be offered the opportunity to have their application and fee returned.
Foster said: ‘I consider it prudent to reissue the policy provisions of draft PPS 14 and to continue to apply them to planning applications received after 16 March 2006 until we have completed our review and developed new policies. I will publish a new draft PPS14 within six months and this will be followed by a period of consultation.’