Sean Clarke, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council’s Planning Committee, was a keynote speaker at the Northern Ireland Planning Conference this week.
During his address, Councillor Clarke described the positive progress Planning has made in Mid Ulster since it transferred under the Council but said there was still more work to be done.
According to the Chair, the main aim of the Planning Committee for Mid Ulster is to make the planning service more accessible for all in a manner that is fair and transparent and where people are accountable for decisions.
He believes that planning should be used as a positive tool in a proactive way to encourage sustainable development.
Since powers transferred from the DoE in 2015, Mid Ulster has had more applications decided by Committee than any of the other 10 Councils.
It has also received the third highest number of applications, has delivered the highest rate of approvals and has achieved its targets for enforcement.
Speaking at the conference Councillor Clarke said, “Prior to 2015 we had a centralised system which failed to adequately recognise local needs. To me planning is about balancing material consideration and making decisions in the public interest. It should focus on delivering sustainable development.
“However, I feel there are still opportunities for further improvements. Issues like funding and tailoring Planning policy independent of the plan process for example, should be re-examined.”