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Planning has key role to play in securing sustainable future

Friday, 6 February 2015

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK has highlighted the importance of the planning system in securing a sustainable future for the Isle of Man in economic, social and environmental terms.

Work is continuing to take place to modernise aspects of planning legislation in line with wider Government efforts to streamline administration, enhance transparency and deliver more customer-focused services.

The Department of Infrastructure is part of a new cross-Government team established to help deliver major developments. This initiative is being coordinated by an officer seconded from Planning to the Department of Economic Development and includes the Cabinet Office, Treasury and Attorney General’s Chambers.

Public feedback is currently being invited on the Draft Isle of Man Strategic Plan 2015, which will help to underpin decisions on development land requirements across the Island until 2026. Outside of the land-based planning system, the Department is preparing new primary legislation to deal with developments within the Isle of Man’s territorial seas.

With significant activity taking place and new and revised legislation in the pipeline, Minister Gawne is taking the opportunity to outline his role, and that of the Council of Ministers, in the planning process.

In the Isle of Man, planning appeals are determined by the Minister for Infrastructure after consideration of an independent planning inspector’s report. The Minister has the power to allow or dismiss an appeal. The Minister may in either case reverse or vary any part of the initial decision made by the Department.

Planning applications in which the Department of Infrastructure has an interest are referred to the Council of Ministers for a decision, which is made after taking into account the report from the independent planning inspector.

To assist Ministers in the delivery of their duties, a bespoke workshop on planning was recently hosted by David Kaiserman, former planning inspector with the UK Planning Inspectorate and Director of Planning and Environmental Health at Manchester City Council.

Minister Gawne said:

‘Planning is important to everyone in the Isle of Man. It supports the Government’s national priority of growing the economy, while being sensitive to the needs of local communities and the environment. As Minister for Infrastructure I have a key role to play in the process, particularly in relation to planning appeals. There may be occasion when, after weighing up all the evidence, I will reverse the recommendation of an independent planning inspector if I feel it is the best interests of the Isle of Man to do so. The documents and reports that inform the decision-making process are available to view online as part of our commitment to openness and transparency.’

He added:

‘A lot of work is being undertaken within the Department to reform areas of planning. I believe there is scope to modernise processes and reduce bureaucracy, while maintaining the robust nature of our planning system.’

The Department’s planning policy and legislation is aimed at delivering a number of national outcomes for the Isle of Man, including:

  • We will live in well-designed, sustainable places where we are able to access the amenities and services we need.
  • We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and will protect it and enhance it for future generations.
  • We will adapt our natural and built environment to cope with the threats from climate change.
  • We will realise our full economic potential with more and better employment opportunities for our people.
  • We have a strong and resilient Island infrastructure that provides a foundation for our economic and social success.

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