Newtownabbey Alliance Councillor Tom Campbell has welcomed the Government’s new policy to restrict the spread of development of housing in the countryside, the so called “bungalow blight”.
Cllr Campbell, who represents the Antrim Line area, said: “The Planning Policy on Sustainable Development in the Countryside shifts the onus away from developers of land with a general presumption against one off dwellings outside established settlements. This is very much to be welcomed as new figures show that this area of the United Kingdom has three times as many single dwellings built in the countryside than any other region.
“A huge increase in development in country areas has in many places destroyed our natural landscapes and causes significant environmental problems. Figures released by Friends of the Earth show that in the area of the Mourne Mountains, for example, applications for planning permission consents rose to 3,500 consents from 2000-2004. It is right that we should seek to protect our countryside against unsuitable development to protect our natural heritage and in the context of the need to attract tourists to come and visit.
“Overall the planning system has encouraged developers by allowing a presumption in favour of development. The lax planning system has led to poor planning decisions in both urban and rural areas. In so far as this new measure will make it harder for developers to build in open
countryside this is to be welcomed but in urban areas there is clearly also a need for more powers to restrict unsuitable development particularly given that such decisions have a permanent impact on local communities. There is also a perception that money is a factor in winning planning appeals with local opinion being ignored.”