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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK
Rural planning faces legal fight
Home in the country
The building of single homes in the countryside is being restricted
A government clampdown on new homes in the Northern Ireland countryside is facing a High Court challenge.

In March, it was announced almost all new plans for single rural dwellings would no longer be considered.

The then-planning minister, Lord Rooker, said that the measures were designed to save the countryside.

However, a firm of architects has applied for judicial review of the planning policy extending green belt restrictions across all rural areas.

The application for judicial review has been lodged by Liam Ward of architectural firm Elevate.

It has submitted numerous planning applications for housing and other forms of development in areas which now fall to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the new policy.

Solicitors for the firm lodged papers in court claiming the effect of the policy was "essentially to extend an unprecedented umbrella green belt across the entire Northern Ireland countryside".

It is claimed the Department for Regional Development failed to consult relevant authorities and the public before announcing the new policy.

The number of new single dwellings in rural areas has risen in recent years.

In 1994-95, approval was granted for 1,845 single homes, but by 2004-05, the figure had increased to 9,520.

Before an application for judicial review can go ahead a judge has to grant leave and a preliminary hearing has yet to be arranged.

Rural planning group to be set up
23 May 06 |  Northern Ireland
Rural building a 'landscape acne'
12 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland
Crackdown on rural house building
16 Mar 06 |  Northern Ireland

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