Transfer of planning powers ‘more efficient’

Mid and East Antrim Councillor Gordon Lyons.  INLT 05-680-CON
Mid and East Antrim Councillor Gordon Lyons. INLT 05-680-CON

A Mid and East Antrim councillor has expressed his hope that the new ‘super council’ will provide a more “efficient” way of doing business.

The transfer of powers from Larne, Carrick and Ballymena council to the new Mid and East Antrim District Council is just over eight weeks away, and work has taking been place in recent months to ensure a seamless transfer of planning functions to the new body.

Mr Lyons, chairman of Mid and East Antrim Council’s planning committee, told the Times: “Planning is one of the areas in which people will notice a significant change in local government. This is not change for the sake of it, but change so that we can do things better.”

The DUP representative added: “From April 1, the council will have responsibility for planning matters and I hope that people will find this a more transparent, but most importantly, a more efficient way of doing things.

“I want Mid and East Antrim to have a planning system that directly benefits local people, our businesses, our environment and our economy. We want to use these new powers for maximum advantage. I believe that we have put in place a system which reduces red tape and speeds up the planning process - a system which people can have confidence in.”

Mid and East Antrim Council will not only make decisions on planning applications, but will also have responsibility for investigating alleged breaches of planning control and deciding on what enforcement action, if any, should be taken while the Department of the Environment will continue to have responsibility for regional planning policy.

According to Mr Lyons, the head of planning, principal planners and senior planners are now all in post, with teams being put in place to take forward the new planning functions on April 1.

The Area Planning Office for Mid and East Antrim will remain in County Hall, Galgorm Road, Ballymena, and further information on contact details will be made available in advance of April 1.