The legislation will transfer regeneration functions from central government to the new Councils, but due to the delays, this will not happen until 2016, a year after the new Councils assume authority. Proposals to transfer housing fitness powers will no longer be included after it was removed from the current version of the legislation.
Stewart Dickson MLA said: “This legislation should have been introduced two years ago. The delay will now mean that the new Councils will not be able to proceed with local regeneration projects when they assume authority on the 1stApril. There will be much uncertainty until these powers are transferred, especially over funding for key projects during this period. It is a completely unacceptable situation.
“This Bill is a pale reflection of its former self as it no longer includes housing fitness powers, which was removed at the behest of Sinn Fein.
“This is another example of the problems within the Executive in delivering major policies. There was no reason for these delays and those responsible should be held to account for the consequences. There are too many issues that have been held up in the Executive due to the inability of the DUP and Sinn Fein to reach agreement. I hope that the proposals in the Stormont House Agreement will improve the internal workings of the Executive but I fear it will fall short of the Stormont reboot that Alliance has been calling for.
“I am pleased that the legislation contains requirements for Councils to produce development plans, however, I am disappointed that there is no requirement for them to promote shared space as part of this. I hope that this will be added into the Bill as it progresses through the Assembly. Shared space and inclusive communities must be at the heart of regeneration, otherwise we could be literally building division into our society.”