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Development Control (Rural Areas)

Volume 931: debated on Thursday 12 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he proposes to take concerning complaints about rural planning in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

I hope to make a statement within the next few weeks about a form of further review of development control policy in rural areas. Such a review would afford an opportunity for the whole matter to be reconsidered and for general complaints about refusal of planning permission to be assessed and taken into account.

Will the Minister accept that, in spite of the temporary inconvenience suffered by the people of Northern Ireland over the last few days, it is mundane matters such as this which concern them? Will he bear in mind that, whatever his policy, we are concerned that the countryside of Northern Ireland should not be depopulated and that people should receive adequate consideration in their planning applications?

I agree that this is an area of controversy and it is precisely because it is an area of controversy—some of which I believe to be unfounded—that I shall be making an announcement within the next few weeks.