Information on Derry & Strabane planning applications to be shared earlier in interests of transparency

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In the interest of transparency, Derry City and Strabane District Council will allow for earlier public access to details of Planning Committee meetings.

The move has come about after a motion was put forward by independent councillor Gary Donnelly at a reconvened Full Council Meeting on Thursday last.

The new arrangements will mean that agendas, papers, and minutes for upcoming Planning Committee meetings will be uploaded to the council’s web page “on the same day that members receive their packs” rather than just a few hours before the meeting takes place.

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“This Council recognises the importance our citizens attach to openness and transparency in the way public business is conducted,” Councillor Donnelly told those gathered at the Full Council meeting.

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly.Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly.

“While acknowledging that this council publishes details of planning recommendations well in advance to the monthly Planning Committee, normal practice is that the agendas, papers and minutes are only made available to the public online on the morning of Committee and Full Council Meetings.

“On April 12, officials took the decision that agenda papers for the April 24 Full Council Meeting should be uploaded to the council web page on April 19, the same day members received their packs.

“This must be seen as a progressive step to take, and making papers available to our citizens at the earliest possible time should become the established practice of this council.“

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SDLP councillor Sean Mooney said the motion “goes some way to bring some transparency and clearness to the planning system”.

“Planning is conducted in the public interest,” he added. “So this is another way of showing our commitment”.

People Before Profit councillor Shaun Harkin said the motion was important as “anything that encourages participation from residents is a good thing”.

Councillor Harkin concluded: “This will be welcomed by many people who follow council proceedings and are interested in how we make decisions.

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“We want the public to understand what the Council is doing and there’s a lot of important decisions made at the Planning Committee, so the earlier people have access to documents the more they can engage.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter.