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Planning Applications (Representations)

Volume 76: debated on Thursday 4 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what proposals he has for facilitating representations on applications for planning permission by the owners or occupiers of contiguous land.

I recently introduced a neighbour notification scheme in Northern Ireland. Under this scheme the occupiers of land adjoining a site which is the subject of a planning application are notified of that application and given the opportunity of making representations before the application is decided.

Will the Minister do his best to ensure that this welcome and desirable reform is given statutory force as soon as practicable, especially in the light of his disclosure last night that there is a bottleneck in the draftsmanship department of the Northern Ireland Office?

I shall certainly ensure that we get ahead and provide a statutory base as soon as possible. We are talking about an interim scheme. Work on the amending Order in Council has begun, but we will obviously want widely to consult right hon. and hon. Members about the precise terms of the legislation.

Do the new notification procedures which the Minister mentioned cover the farming community and tenants of dwellinghouses, and, in particular, the tenants of Housing Executive dwellings?

For very good reasons the procedures cover occupiers rather than owners.

Is my hon. Friend the Minister, like me, encouraged to hear the right hon. Member for South Down, (Mr. Powell) welcoming a measure introduced at the behest of the Northern Ireland Assembly? Will my hon. Friend go one step further and consider site notification?

As my hon. Friend knows, we are also looking at site notification and experimenting in that direction. As for encouragement, I am always encouraged by the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell).

Is there not an anomaly in the general law here? Is it not true that if someone is refused planning permission for his own property he can appeal, but that if something horrendous is happening next door, such as the erection of a fish and chip shop or a petrol station, he has no right of appeal? Should not the new provisions being applied to Northern Ireland be extended to the general law in this country?

We are also considering the whole question of third party appeals. It is often the case that the things that we do in Northern Ireland could well be transplanted elsewhere.