Government urged to review planning law

Construction jobs in Northern Ireland can be protected and firms helped to survive the downturn if the government extends planning permissions that are about to expire, it has been argued.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is calling upon the government to extend this consideration to construction firms across the UK forced to postpone projects due to the harsh economic climate.

A time limit of three years is normally placed on the planning permissions but some firms that already had them have been forced to suspend projects, the CBI said.

In a letter to the government, the organisation argues that forcing firms to reapply will just place extra financial pressure on them as the cost of submitting an application can be as high as £250,000.

"Allowing firms to apply for a time-extension on planning permission would help them survive the recession," said CBI director for business environment Dr Neil Bentley.

This would also protect jobs and leave the firms "better-positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery when it comes".
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