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Plea over planning guidelines

New Environment Minister Alex Attwood should introduce planning guidelines for the design and construction of tall buildings in Belfast.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland said it believes taller buildings will help to reduce Northern Ireland's carbon footprint and provide a higher quality of urban living.

"While construction activity has contracted significantly in Northern Ireland in recent years, there is still the need to have appropriate planning guidelines in place for now and the future," Ben Collins, the RICS Northern Ireland director, said.

The introduction of the guidelines has been called for after two previous environment ministers announced that new design guidelines regarding the construction of tall buildings would be introduced, providing advice to both developers and the general public. However, no such guidelines have been published.

He said: "Taller buildings have an important role to play in the future development of Belfast as a modern, vibrant, sustainable city."

"Other European cities with similar populations to Belfast occupy much smaller areas and are therefore more sustainable."