Northern Ireland

Derry City Council to hire extra planning officers

Derry City Council is considering employing extra planning officers to help Northern Ireland Planning Service, which is facing cuts to its staff.

In April, it was announced that a third of Planning Service staff would be moved to other Civil Service posts.

Pressure on planners is expected to increase in the run up to Derry becoming UK City of Culture 2013.

Londonderry Chamber of Commerce warned the city could lose out on investment due to delays in the planning process.

'Overworked'

The chamber's chief executive Sinead McLaughlin said the Planning Service "must tackle its under-performance and increase the speed with which it considers planning applications".

"Tens of millions of pounds of investment have been promised for City of Culture, with more schemes currently being worked up by developers.

"Yet these plans could come to nothing if proposals get tied-up in the slow process for considering and approving planning applications," she said.

Ms McLaughlin claimed there was "simply too much demand for overworked planning officers to cope with" and said cutting staff in the service was "the wrong approach".

She added that the council had shown leadership in helping to tackle the problem but said it was "a shame that it has come to this".

More on this story