Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Stop 'bungalow blight' in the countryside call

Environment groups have urged the Stormont government to adopt draft rules to protect Ulster's countryside from "bungalow blight" while the issue is up in the air.



The controversial PPS14 rule which controls building in the countryside was recently declared unlawful in the High Court by Mr Justice Gillen.

But Northern Ireland's green lobby insists strong measures to protect the countryside are needed while it is reviewed.

Northern Ireland Environment Link, which represents a group of environment bodies, called on Environment Minister Arlene Foster to take urgent action to protect the landscape.

"NIEL's members are very concerned by the potential implications of Mr Justice Gillen's rulings on PPS14.

"The judge concluded that the policy was introduced illegally, but that if the policy had been introduced by the DoE he would have found the contents unobjectionable," NIEL said.

Until PPS14 was introduced, three times more houses were built each year in Northern Ireland's open countryside than in the whole of England, Wales and Scotland combined, the group said.

This was resulting in loss and fragmentation of agricultural land and wildlife habitat, urbanisation of the countryside, poor local services over a dispersed area, the proliferation of septic tanks and an over-reliance on cars, it argued.

Seamus óg Gallagher, NIEL policy officer, said: "The policy must continue to be the key material consideration in the determination of planning applications for dwellings in the open countryside.

"We support the principles and direction of PPS14, and feel that the 'presumption against development' with exemptions for proven need must be upheld."

The policy for single dwellings in the countryside is being looked at by an Executive Sub Committee, including several ministers.

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