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Last Updated: Monday, 21 May 2007, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Rural planning law 'devastating'
Home in the country
The building of single homes in the countryside is restricted
Rural and seaside communities in Northern Ireland are being devastated by a lack of land to build new homes on, MLA John Dallat has said.

Mr Dallat is calling on the Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy to change the legislation which restricts building in the countryside.

The SDLP East Londonderry MLA said it is time for the assembly to act.

"There's got to be legislation, there's got to be adequate land released for development," Mr Dallat said.

He said the law - PPS-14 - had to be changed "to ensure that we don't have this crazy situation where demand completely outstrips supply".

However, Green Party assembly member Brian Wilson said the law was fair.

"What it is banning is single houses - houses on every hillside - what PPS-14 is not saying is that there should be no building," Mr Wilson said.

"There is every potential to expand local settlements, local villages, local hamlets."

The government announced in March 2006, that 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.

"We are wasting the countryside by pepper-potting it with dwellings that are not sustainable - which require motorcars, which require massive numbers of septic tanks, which actually help destroy communities," he said.

The decision has met with protests and a court challenge.

Property ladder

Meanwhile, during Monday's debate in the assembly, housing shortages and planning delays were the order of the day.

SDLP minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie, pledged to address housing shortages, but stressed it would require a team effort.

She was speaking during a debate brought by the DUP's Jim Shannon, demanding a strategy for dealing with housing shortages.

The Alliance Party's Naomi Long amended the motion to ensure housing stock be replaced at a greater rate during redevelopment.

She expressed concern about young people trying to get on the property ladder.

Sinn Fein's Fra McCann led a debate on what he called the "scandal" of 36,000 houses lying vacant in Northern Ireland at a time of great housing need.




SEE ALSO
Protest over rural planning move
09 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
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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