RTPI Northern Ireland has set out five key requests of the parties in Northern Ireland, following the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive one year after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)/Sinn Féin coalition formed.
The country will go to the polls on 2 March.
The planning system in Northern Ireland has gone through a period of change following the transfer of planning powers from the national government to local councils. The institute calls for additional support and stability for the system to allow it to deliver the infrastructure, development and housing needed across Northern Ireland.
RTPI Northern Ireland’s requests to the political parties in the country for the next term of the assembly are:
1. Growing confidence in the planning system
The Northern Ireland Assembly must focus on making the Planning ACT (NI) 2011 function effectively, facilitate the delivery of the Regeneration Bill to enable regeneration functions to be transferred to local authorities, and focus on delivering a positive planning service that is clear in its requirements.
2. Ensure the provision of a quality home for everyone in Northern Ireland that needs one
The future assembly must publish a long-term plan for housing considering all tenures and at the regional level provide direction for Community Plans and local development plans. It should also facilitate infrastructure to support new housing and ensure that infrastructure provision does not hold up development.
3. Coordinate policy by focusing on people and places
The Northern Ireland Assembly must ensure that bodies out of local authority control, such as Transport NI, constructively facilitate physical development and the progress of Community Plans and local development planners. It should also support communities in influencing how the local place develops.
4. Integrate infrastructure, development and environment
The assembly must develop a positive relationship between highways and land use to develop an effective public transport infrastructure. It should also promote, through the Regional Development Strategy, connectivity between planning and infrastructure to create commercially attractive transport hubs that are critical to investment.
5. Promote a growing sustainable economy
The assembly must ensure that the planning system is well resourced so that it is able to respond appropriately and with confidence to economic opportunities. It should support the policy framework ensuring that the town centre first principle is delivered.
Beverley Clyde, chair of RTPI Northern Ireland, said: “Our asks demonstrate how the planning system can deliver for people and businesses in Northern Ireland. It is an important part of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive’s toolkit to fulfil their commitments to us. Political confidence in what planning can creatively achieve is crucial, especially in light of the fact that the planning system in Northern Ireland has changed dramatically over the past year.”