Review of Planning to Commence
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has instigated a review of how the Planning service within the new Council area can streamline the decision making process to speed up processing times.
The Council on 1 April 2015 was transferred a service with the highest level of backlogged applications and a staff complement which was not properly resourced. The complex geographical nature of the Council has meant operating from dual bases - Downpatrick where there was a previous office and Newry where there was no office.
However the Council recognises the importance of an efficient Planning service to the local economy and housing need in parts of the district. It is on this basis they have been externally recruiting new Planners on a full and temporary basis to the Council. These should be in place by the end of January.
Council Chief Executive, Liam Hannaway is committed to continuous transformation and improvement of Council services and stated, “While these new starts will make a difference, the Council is keen to streamline the decision making process by reviewing its committee structures, speaking rights and its staff allocation. To this end the Council has engaged a retired Senior Planning Director, Mr Jim MacKinnon, from Scotland who has vast experience in running and improving Planning systems in Scotland. He will not only be speaking to Planning staff and Councillors but also agents, community groups and those who have an interest in the Planning System.”
Mr Hannaway continued, “It is 40 years since Councils have been involved in Planning and on this basis it is inevitable that there will be teething problems. However the Council is determined that this will improve and has taken this proactive approach to their current service delivery.”