A free network for
councillors interested in planning issues extended to councillors
in Northern Ireland, announced Colin Haylock President of the Royal
Town Planning Institute (RTPI), at an event held at Stormont
earlier this week (Wednesday 24 October). The RTPI is the largest
professional institute for planners in Europe representing 23,000
planners in the public and private sectors.
The decision to extend the Politicians in Planning Association (PIPA)
to councillors in Northern Ireland has been made ahead of the
transfer of planning powers and responsibilities to councils in
2015. PIPA has been previously open to members of the Northern
Ireland Assembly, but not to councillors.
The announcement took place at a training day aimed at
councillors in the Long Gallery in Stormont, kindly hosted by Simon
Hamilton MLA. Minister of the Environment, Alex Attwood MLA
provided the keynote address for the event.
Colin Haylock (pictured above in Stormont), President of the
RTPI, said: "The RTPI will play its part in building the capacity
and expertise of councillors involved in planning in Northern
Ireland. We know that engaged and knowledgeable councillors are
essential for an effective devolved planning system, which is why I
am delighted to announce that the RTPI's Politicians in Planning
Association (PIPA) is now open to councillors in Northern Ireland.
PIPA is a free mechanism for councillor networking which has
regular email bulletins which disseminate information, news, and
best practice. PIPA will be also consulting with councillors about
whether an on-line discussion forum aimed at 'planning councillors'
in Northern Ireland would be useful."
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said: "Overall, reform of
local government will bring planning back to where I believe it
belongs - in the local community - and make it more locally
accountable, giving local politicians the opportunity to shape the
areas within which they are elected. With less than 900 days
to go to transfer, there is a need to ensure that staff and
councillors are all prepared for the changes. I believe,
however, that, if done right, this can be the liberation of
councils and I intend to ensure that we will get this right."
The 2011 Planning Act (Northern Ireland) allows for the transfer
and responsibilities of planning to councils that will take place
in 2015. Eleven new councils will have the responsibility for
preparing local development plans, determining the majority of
planning applications and taking enforcement action.
Minister Alex Attwood (Minister of the Environment), Colin
Haylock (President of the RTPI), Ross Martin (Policy Director at
the Centre for Scottish Public Policy), and Alderman Jim Dillon
(Chair of NILGA's Planning Working Group) gave presentations at the