Mid Ulster planners ‘six months behind’ say architects

Mid Ulster architect says new council planning department needs more staff
Mid Ulster architect says new council planning department needs more staff

Two Mid Ulster architects have raised concerns over the length of time it is taking to get plans passed since the council took on the responsibility.

One, who works across the district, said he has been waiting six months for answers on plans that Department of the Environment would have dealt with in two months.

I have an application in since May for a shower for a disabled man in Dungannon - in Omagh disabled would have got priority. This man needs it but nobody is doing anything about it - Mid Ulster architect

Despite admitting they have less staff and resources than before, Mid Ulster council say the Planning Committee is working efficiently. But the architects, who want to remain anonymous, disagree.

“I think they’re in over their heads,” one told the Mail.

“At the moment the ones that I am waiting on approval [for], are running between five and six months behind.”

“It’s taking longer because planners are unsure of the system,” another, Dungannon based architect said. “I put in plans for a house extension at the beginning of March and I am still waiting on it.”

“Normally if I put in an application for a replacement dwelling it’s six to eight weeks. I put one in in February and I am still waiting - so that’s six months,” the other man said.

“I have an application in since May for a shower for a disabled man in Dungannon,” he went on. “In Omagh disabled would have got priority.

“It was a simple thing at the back of a house and there is no word of it either. This man needs it, but nobody is doing anything about it.”

When asked what he thought the main cause of the delay was, he said: “I think they need more staff. It seems they’re all watching the money and they’re not worried about the people having to wait. The councillors should be worried about the people.”

A spokesperson for Mid Ulster council said: “The committee system is not leading to undue delay and the Planning Committee is working efficiently, demonstrating its ability each month to make timely decisions. Mid Ulster does have fewer people to deal with planning applications than the department would have had in the past [and] the council has repeatedly voiced its concerns that planning did not transfer to local councils with adequate resources.

“However, we remain confident that Mid Ulster will remain one of the top performing councils.”