Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced her intention to change planning rules on permitted development rights which will benefit businesses and the environment.
The changes would be to permitted development rights which allow for certain types of development to take place without the need for planning permission.
These proposed changes will allow the following without the need for planning permission and subject to certain limitations:
- upgrades on masts and antennas enabling better coverage for mobiles and broadband;
- shopkeepers extending property and loading bays; and
- recharging infrastructure for electric vehicles;
Permitted development rights for petroleum (oil and gas) exploration will also be removed.
The Minister will be bringing her proposals to the Infrastructure Committee for scrutiny in the coming weeks.
Minister Mallon said: “I am committed to ensuring that my Department plays its role in supporting the Northern Ireland economy as well as reducing carbon emissions and promoting the use of renewable energy. Permitted development rights benefit businesses of all sizes, reducing costs and saving time. Extending permitted development rights further will promote growth, allowing businesses to meet their aspirations for improvement and expansion.
“However it is also vital that we do all that we can to protect our environment, that is why with today’s package of measures, I want to make clear that I will also be removing permitted development rights for oil and gas exploration. This is an important step and I believe the right one for our environment.
“I also want to encourage the growth of the electric vehicle market. It is therefore crucial that we make the process as simple as possible. These proposals will make it easier for the provision of recharging infrastructure by removing regulatory barriers thus helping Northern Ireland move towards low carbon motoring. This represents another step which helps underpin a green recovery.”
“I also want to see better coverage for mobiles and broadband. The expansion of permitted development for upgrades on masts and antennas will help the telecommunications industry improve its coverage and bring us closer to the other administrations in these islands. This is important as we adapt to a new and much more digital normal in the face of Covid-19.
“Further, I want to make it easier for owners of shops, and similar businesses to undertake small extensions to their property, including loading bays, to encourage expansion and innovation. These proposals strike an essential balance. They make it easier for business owners to make improvements, with safeguards to protect neighbours and ensure that development is of an appropriate scale and character.
“This package represents my commitment to protecting and growing our economy while greening our recovery, protecting our environment and turning the dial to strike a balance in our approach.”