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RTPI NI considers local government reforms

16 February 2011

The Royal Town Planning Institute in Northern Ireland held a consultation event yesterday (10 February) in Belfast with its members to consider the effect of proposed local government reforms on planners and their industry.

John Murphy from the Department of the Environment set out the content of the recently published reform proposals, Lewis Porter from Craigavon District Council explored the concerns that councillors and officials have which focus on the pending devolution of planning functions to councils proposed in the current Draft Northern Ireland Planning Bill. Julia Frost, from Turleys Associates in Scotland, gave a comparative review of the Scottish experience of a devolved planning system and the intricacies of community involvement.

The RTPI Northern Ireland Policy Officer, Brian Sore, then chaired a discussion session which explored the concerns about the mechanics and timescales of the proposed local government reforms; the role of the planner in the new structure; the new culture of community planning and community well being that have been proposed in the DoE's consultation document.

Photo from left to right: Lewis Porter Craigavon District Council: Diana Thompson Incoming Chair RTPI NI Branch; Julia Frost Turleys Associates Scotland; Angela Morrison Turleys Associates Belfast; John Murphy DoE Northern Ireland.

Diana Thompson, the Chair of the NI Branch said:

\"The proposals are a significant challenge to planners in these challenging economic times. Members look forward to receiving further clarity on the delivery and timing of the reform process'?  Nevertheless, subject to consultation with members, there are areas that we think can be improved.\"

 RTPI NI will be responding to the Northern Ireland Local Government Reform document at the end of February. RTPI members interested in making comment on the proposals is invited to contact the NI Policy Officer at nipolicy@rtpi.org.uk