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Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:15 pm on 11th May 2009.

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Photo of Sammy Wilson Sammy Wilson Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 1:15 pm, 11th May 2009

My Department instigated some work on the planning system by PEDU, which considered a number of issues, including the internal processing of planning applications, case management, etc. It also considered how we could be more proactive in managing cases in the planning system. Nigel Dodds, the Minister of Finance and Personnel, and I have held joint meetings with the Planning Service and PEDU. We are happy that many of the suggestions have been taken on board.

A number of issues arose, including internal case management and how we could be more proactive about that. There was also the issue of the service-level agreements with consultees, which, I must say, were sometimes service-level agreements in name only, because although they included timescales, those timescales were missed time and time again. We have looked at how those could be tightened up.

The planning reform proposals now include more definite proposals, such as statutory limits on the length of time that consultees have, and ways to ensure that developers make better planning applications.

PEDU has made a range of recommendations, and we have taken those on board. Those recommendations are already improving the way in which planning decisions are made.