Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced that he is considering exempting churches from paying planning fees.
Not for profit clubs and societies already are exempt and the Minister has undertaken a review to see whether it should also extend to churches.
Mark H Durkan said: “I have been approached by a number of representatives of churches in recent months enquiring whether the current nil fee for planning applications available to not for profit clubs and societies should also extend to churches. Given the important role our churches play in society, I have thus instigated a review to see whether that should happen.
“We need though to take on board councils’ experiences of operating as the local planning authorities. Any future changes in fee exemptions may impact on the amount of cost they recover in processing planning applications. Councils will therefore be well placed to inform the review.”
The work of the Review will be taken forward in conjunction with the recently established Strategic Planning Group. This group includes DOE officials, heads of planning from district councils and other key operational stakeholders.