West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Rights of non-farming rural dwellers put to the fore of PPS21 Review-McNally

Published: 4 July, 2017

Omagh Sinn Fein Councillor Barry McNally has told a Department of Infrastructure review being held into the Rural Planning Policy PPS21 that it needs to be amended to accommodate the rights of non-farming rural families.

The Mid-Tyrone councillor and outgoing Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council's Planning Committee said,

"Since the introduction of Planning Policy Statement 21, Sinn Féin at Assembly and Council level have been pressing for its review so as to deal with several key issues which were not fully dealt with when this policy was introduced. Furthermore we sought to undo the damage that of the draconian Planning Policy PPS14 which had been imposed under Direct Rule.

"While Sinn Féin acknowledged that PPS 21 represented a major step forward on most of the issues that we were campaigning on we were nonetheless critical that the rights of Non-Farming Rural Dwellers were not addressed in the policy as well the key areas such as Farm Clustering.

"Last year when Sinn Féin's Chris Hazard was appointed Infrastructure Minister he moved to initiate this long-awaited review into a PPS21.

"Fleming Mounstephen were tasked to undertake the review and recently wrote to me in my capacity as chair Council's planning committee to look at setting up a meeting between them and I on the issue.

"However, given the importance of this issue for our rural communities in Omagh and Fermanagh, I took the opportunity to open it to the wider planning committee to ensure that the strength of feeling about how PPS21 needs to be amended to accommodate non-farming rural families was fully reflected.

"At the meeting, I highlighted my concerns that people who were born and bred in rural areas are being forced into urban centres, given that lack of opportunities of development in the countryside.

"In terms of Farm Clustering PPS 21 stipulates that new buildings situated on farms have to be visually linked to the existing farm buildings - this is obviously problematic for rural people as it is not always suitable for health and other reasons to build dwelling houses beside farm buildings.

"We hope this review will provide the opportunity to address the existing anomalies in PPS21 as they particularly affect families in this predominantly rural district council area.

"As a council we are all too aware of the problems these anomalies present and in drawing up our local development plan we have tried, within our limited ability, to make planning in the countryside more amenable, where possible, to rural dwellers. ENDS