Belfast Telegraph

DUP MLA Arlene Foster seeks suspension of Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A Stormont Minister is to seek the suspension of a planning blueprint for greater Belfast as part of her legal challenge to its approval by an Executive colleague, the High Court heard today.

The SDLP Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is facing judicial review proceedings over his decision to give the green light to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP).

The framework identifies zones for retail, residential and commercial development across the city and outlying areas such as Carrickfergus, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and north Down.

But the DUP Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster is taking Mr Durkan to court for adopting the plan in September.

She claims her colleague in the power-sharing administration breached the ministerial code by publishing BMAP without bringing it before the Executive for full approval.

Mr Durkan has vowed to robustly defend any challenge to his decision.

He also urged others in the Stormont cabinet against wasting public money on a protracted legal battle.

In court today, however, counsel for Mrs Foster confirmed she was pressing ahead with her action.

David Scoffield QC said: "This is an application for judicial review by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment against one of her ministerial colleagues, and also an application for interim relief."

The relief being sought is understood to involve an order suspending any implementation of MAP until the case is decided.

Mr Scoffield then requested an adjournment for both sides to try to reach agreement on the preliminary issues.

The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, agreed to put the case back to January 23 for a possible hearing on whether to grant leave to seek a judicial review.

Asked whether that could turn into a long court session, Mr Scoffield replied: "In my submission it won't be a lengthy hearing. We say the issue is plainly arguable."

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