Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan: Arlene Foster wins the first stage in planning challenge

By Alan Erwin

A Stormont minister has cleared the first stage in her legal challenge to an Executive colleague approving a planning blueprint for greater Belfast.

DUP Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was granted leave to seek a judicial review of Mark H Durkan's decision to give the green light to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP).

A judge was told Mr Durkan, the SDLP Environment Minister, was not opposed to the case proceeding to a full hearing.

BMAP identifies zones for retail, residential and commercial development across the city and outlying areas such as Carrickfergus, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and north Down. Mrs Foster issued High Court proceedings against Mr Durkan for adopting the framework in September last year.

She claims her colleague in the power-sharing administration breached the ministerial code by publishing the plan 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 yesterday, counsel representing the Environment Minister, Tony McGleenan QC, confirmed the application for leave to seek a judicial review was not being opposed.

It was previously indicated that Mrs Foster would also be seeking an order to suspend any implementation of BMAP until the case is decided. According to Mr McGleenan that bid for interim relief was no longer being pursued. A full hearing is expected within three months.

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