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Belfast urged to grasp historic opportunity to reform planning system

24 September 2009

Rynd Smith, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the Royal Town Planning Institute, has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to grasp the historic opportunity presented by the Department of the Environment's proposals to reform the Northern Irish planning system.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing's conference on planning reform on Thursday 24th September in Belfast, Rynd Smith said:

\"Northern Ireland has a unique opportunity to join up its policy on planning and housing and create a world-class system. This requires an understanding of land, finance, the construction sector, planning, local and central government, but it is very seldom that circumstances conspire to enable a government or communities to pull all of the policy levers in all of these sectors at once.

Northern Ireland can examine the different experiences of planning reform processes in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere and can then innovate with a scope that has not been enjoyed by other jurisdictions for many years. It can build upon the strengths of the current system and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to deliver much need housing and regeneration in concert.† Government, councils, and the development, housing and planning sectors need to work closely together to make and shape sustainable new communities: to use the jargon – 'place shaping'.