Revised draft Northern Ireland flood risk policy published

A new draft flood risk planning policy including 'greater flexibility' to approve developments when flood risk has been mitigated has been published for consultation by Northern Ireland's environment minister Mark H Durkan.

Flooding: draft policy document published for consultation
Flooding: draft policy document published for consultation

The Revised Planning Policy Statement 15 ‘Planning and Flood Risk’ would update the existing PPS 15 document with a series of new policies.

Included in the draft policy is a proposal to address potential hazards for developments located close to reservoirs. According to the Department for Environment Northern Ireland, this "would require developers to provide assurances about reservoir safety before planning permission is granted for any new development close to reservoirs".

The department said other key proposals are that developers would have to submit a flood risk assessment within identified flood risk areas and demonstrate how these risks can be managed through, for example, building flood proofed buildings.

But the department said there would also be "greater flexibility to facilitate development when the flood risk has been mitigated through raising the land to an appropriate level".

Durkan said: "I believe it is important to ensure that the planning system continues to manage new development so as to further reduce the risk of flooding to people and property. I also think that developers building near reservoirs should take responsibility for ensuring their safety – making this a planning condition should help create a safer environment."

Revised Draft PPS 15 is out for public consultation until 10 January 2014 and can be read here.

Separately, the number of planning applications received by Northern Ireland's planning service is continuing to fall, latest government statistics have revealed.

The provisional Northern Ireland Planning Development Management Statistics Report April – June 2013 shows that the overall number of planning applications submitted in Northern Ireland is still falling, down by 7 per cent on the same time last year (from 3,233 to 2,997).

However, the latest reduction is significantly less than the falls recorded in the first quarter of previous years which were typically in the range of 16-17 per cent.

The report also shows a notable increase of approaching one-fifth (17 per cent) in the number of residential planning applications in urban areas, with 790 submitted in the first quarter of 2013/14 compared to 676 for the same period last year. This follows a series of large successive falls in these applications in quarter one over recent years.

There have also been improvements in application processing performance compared with the same period last year. Processing times were all lower for major, intermediate, and minor applications for the first quarter in 2013/14 than for the corresponding quarter last year.

The provisional Northern Ireland Planning Development Management Statistics Report April – June 2013 can be read here.

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