One Planet Development Private Members' Bill Consultation

1. Background

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Mark H Durkan MLA is sponsoring a One Planet Development Private Members' Bill proposal to incorporate One Planet Development principles into future planning policy in NI.

This addresses One Planet Development in rural locations outside existing settlements. This terminology is a way of describing ecological footprint. Essentially, modern western civilisation consumes natural assets at a rate which is beyond their speed of renewal and therefore unsustainable. (The UK consumes “5 planets” a year; the US 7.5; Luxembourg 15).  

One planet developments would provide opportunities for residents of NI to reduce their ecological footprint and contribute to NI achieving zero carbon status. One Planet developments can either be single homes, co-operative communities or larger settlements in the form of community land trusts, located within or adjacent to existing settlements, or situated in the open countryside.

The Executive has adopted a range of climate change and climate mitigation policies. The Member’s objective of adopting One Planet Living and community land trust principles into planning and related legislation is to facilitate growth in numbers of people who can create zero carbon sustainable self-sufficient small holdings and small eco-friendly community housing that will encourage young people to stay in the countryside and also support older people.

One Planet Living developments and community land trusts have been highly successful in Wales and England, making a positive contribution to rural regeneration. The proposed legislation will aim to assist and support this in NI.

Legislative objectives

Pursuant to these policy objectives, the main legislative objectives of the Bill are to create:

i. A right to bid for planning permission for projects, smallholdings etc, and a statutory community right to bid for assets (public and private), which can be used for community benefit such as sustainable living, affordable living, co-housing, social enterprise, environmental and community regeneration, etc. 

ii. A regulatory framework for sustainable living, community benefit, and community wealth building via mechanisms such as OPD, community asset transfer, community land trusts, co-housing and social enterprise.

iii. Specifically, two prongs of provision are proposed: one for legal status and framework for community land trusts, and a second for legal status and framework for one-planet developments.

iv. It is desirable, to enable implementation of the above frameworks, also to provide for:

a. A public register of assets and ownership

b. equal standing for communities in planning appeals

The Private Member’s Bill will require the Minister for Infrastructure to incorporate these principles in Regional Planning Policy and set up a technical reference group from among relevant stakeholders to advise on the content, implementation and monitoring of the new policy.

This consultation will run from Wednesday 13th January to Wednesday 10th March 2021.