Armitage challenges Minister to produce planning failure evidence

Alliance Councillor David Armitage has challenged the Infrastructure Minister to present any evidence of complaints against Councils regarding new planning rules.

East Belfast Councillor Mr Armitage was speaking after Minister Chris Hazzard said a number of Councils had fallen foul of their own rules, which were introduced in the past financial year following the Review of Public Administration.

“If the Minister has any evidence about Councillors from Belfast or elsewhere falling foul of regulations, then he should bring it forward and share with the public,” said Councillor Armitage.

“While it is true to say Councils have only had planning powers for a short period and many Councillors are still on a learning curve as regards the rules, I feel it does them a disservice to say they are falling foul of them.

“Local Councillors are more than capable of dealing with high-level planning issues – I would urge the Minister to look at the actions of Belfast City Councillors around the proposed Lidl development at the Connswater Shopping Centre to see the mature level of debate and the ability to use planning to promote and strengthen an area.

“The facts show Belfast in particular is one of the best-performing Councils as regards planning, so the Minister should either present his evidence or apologise.”

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