agendaNi’s Northern Ireland Planning Conference is now firmly established as the major annual event for all those with an interest or role in planning and development in Northern Ireland. The 2021 conference comes at a time of great change. As of January 2020 we have a functioning Assembly in place with the New Decade, New Approach deal. A key priority of the restored Executive is ‘Investing for our Future’ – effective planning will be a key component to ensure Northern Ireland’s economic and social potential can be realised.
With Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon now in place, decisions on major projects of regional significance can be taken. Local authorities are also progressing Local Development Plans to shape local areas for the next decade and beyond.
However, no one could have guessed that the new decade would begin with the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting all areas of life across the globe and creating exceptional challenges and widespread disruption. The Department for Infrastructure introduced a number of measures to try to overcome some of the obstacles to planning and ensure no unnecessary delays. While these measures were temporary, as we move into the recovery phase of the pandemic, there may be the opportunity to rethink processes. Covid-19, while having a huge economic impact on Northern Ireland, may also give the chance to look again at town and city planning – the long term changes to our work and travel patterns may not be known for some time.
Thursday 11th February 2021
The conference will provide an opportunity for all those with a role or interest in planning to come together for discussion and debate. Attendees will come from across all sectors and will include government policy-makers and decision-takers, other government agencies and NDPBs, local government officials, planners, developers, waste companies, advisory organisations, community representative groups and political representatives. The conference aims to be as interactive as possible with delegates able to put questions directly to the expert panel.
Planning Aid Scotland
Petra Biberbach is Chief Executive of award-winning national charity, Planning Aid Scotland. With a career spanning public, private and third sector, Petra brings a wealth of expertise to the post in the fields of planning, sustainable development, renewable energy, community engagement and research. She is currently the Vice Chair of LINK Group and chairs the Property Development Group. Petra served as a member on the Independent Review of the Scottish Planning System and recently completed two terms as a board member of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority where she was Convenor of the Planning Committee. In 1998 she founded and became the first chair of the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) which campaigned successfully for the reopening of the Borders Railway.
Head of Planning
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Prior to taking up the post of Head of Planning for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Paul worked as a Principal Planner for Department of the Environment’s Planning Service, in the Chief Planners Office, providing professional planning advice to the Minister and the local area planning offices. Paul graduated from the University of Dundee in 1994 with a BSc Honours Degree in Town and Regional Planning. In 1996 Paul completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Urban Design at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Paul then joined Department of the Environment’s Planning Service in 1999, working in the Northern Area Planning Office in County Hall, Coleraine. During his time in Coleraine, Paul was responsible for development management and enforcement in Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymoney and Moyle council districts.
Professor of Environmental Planning
School of Natural and Built Environment
Queen’s University Belfast
Geraint Ellis is Professor of Environmental Planning in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University, Belfast and Co-Editor of the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning. He has been appointed by the Taoiseach as an independent member of the National Economic and Social Council and is also a member of the Assessment Panel for Architecture, Built Environment and Planning of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2021. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles, covering issues such as the way planning relates to energy, health and marine issues, including recently co-authoring reports for the Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission. He has recently stood down as a Director of Belfast Healthy Cities, and is a founding member of the Editorial Board of the Cities & Health Journal, for which he was the lead editor of its recent COVID-19 Special Issue.
Brian Evans is Professor of Urbanism+Landscape at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the Glasgow School of Art and director of the Glasgow Urban Laboratory. In 2019, he was invited to become Glasgow's City Urbanist, an independent civic role acting as strategic adviser on 'place, design and the city' with a local, national and international perspective. He is an advisor to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva on the future of cities and the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. He was previously Artistic Professor of Urban Design & Planning at Chalmers School of Architecture in Gothenburg and from 1990-2015 was a partner with Gillespies LLP, the international design practice where he developed the disciplines of landscape planning and urban design and pioneered ecological urbanism.
Chief Planner and Director of Regional Planning
Department for Infrastructure
Angus Kerr is Chief Planner and Director of the Department for Infrastructure Northern Ireland Regional Planning Directorate. Angus was appointed as Director in January 2012 and is responsible for regional planning and developing planning legislation and policy in line with Ministerial direction. Angus is a chartered Town Planner with over 25 years’ experience working in a wide range of planning posts across government. Angus was recently Project Director for the planning reform and transfer project which was responsible for reforming the planning system and transferring the majority of planning functions to the new 11 Councils on 1 April 2015.
Partner and Head of Planning and Environmental Law Team
Gary McGhee is the Partner in Carson McDowell LLP who heads the firm’s Planning and Environmental Law Team, which he established over 20 years ago. Gary is one of the few solicitors in NI who specialises exclusively in planning and environmental law. Similarly, Gary is also one of the few solicitors in the jurisdiction to be qualified as a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Gary specialises in the co-ordination of major planning applications, representation of clients at planning appeals and major public inquiries and the instigation / defence of judicial reviews of planning / environmental decisions. Gary has represented clients at over 60 planning appeals and major public inquiries and has been involved in most of the major planning and environmental judicial reviews in NI over the course of the last two decades. Gary became a partner in Carson McDowell in 2004 and is a member of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) and the Environment and Planning Law Association for NI (EPLANI). Gary is described in Chambers and Partners 2016 as 'market-leading' and as having 'a wealth of experience in planning inquiries and judicial review', while The Legal 500 2016 praises him for his ‘focused advice'.
Planner and Engagement Officer
Dr Louise O’Kane joined Community Places as a Planner in October 2008. Community Places is a voluntary sector not-for-profit organisation. It provides independent and impartial planning advice and support to individuals and communities, facilitates community planning and supports community engagement in projects, programmes and policy development.
Louise has over 15 years’ experience of working in the areas of spatial planning, community engagement, community planning and conflict transformation. Most recently, Louise managed a Community Planning is here: Get Involved! Civic Activism Project and an Erasmus+ European Community Participation in Planning Project working with partners in Milan, Aveiro and Belfast. Louise is currently co-ordinating the regional Participatory Budgeting Works Project.
William Orbinson QC specialises in planning, energy and related environmental law issues, he spends his time providing outcome-focussed planning advice, and acting in development plan examinations, appeals, enforcement appeals, and judicial reviews. Qualified as a Legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute since 1997, he has written main texts on planning appeals, planning policy, prematurity, environmental assessment, energy development, enforcement, and planning judicial review.
Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland
James Orr has a background in law, leadership and town planning. He worked for 18 years as Director of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in N Ireland based at Castle Espie and for the last ten years for Friends of the Earth. His currents interests the Rights for Nature and movement building using a social ecology model.
Inner City Trust Group
Helen Quigley is CEO of Inner City Trust Group, a member of Development Trust NI, Academy of Urbanism and the governing body of Ulster University; Chair of Fashion and Textile Design Centre, Deputy Lieutenant for the Borough of Londonderry; A Freeman of the City of London and Vice Chair of Heritage Trust Network and a Regional Advisory Board member of the National Trust. Helen is a Fellow of the Institute of Accounting Technicians and worked in accountancy for 30 years. She is a former Councillor and Mayor of Derry in 2006 and served as President of Northern Ireland Local Government Association in 2008. As a Public Representative, Helen has held various positions both on Derry City Council and outside bodies.
An Bord Pleanála
Dave Walsh was appointed Chairperson of An Bord Pleanála in October 2018, having previously served as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in a civil service career spanning 23 years in the Custom House. As Asst Secretary over the Planning and Housing Policy Division, Dave had primary responsibility for planning policy (including development and delivery of the National Planning Framework) and housing market and rental policy, with a key focus on coordinated implementation of the Government's Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness. Prior to this, Dave headed up the Department's Environment and Climate Division, leading Ireland's and the EU negotiations on climate change during Ireland's 2013 EU Presidency and has also previously worked on national waste policy, environmental legislation and compliance with EU environmental law, spatial planning policy, franchise, and local government.
Stef Webb is a strategy, project and programme leader working at the interface of politics, policy and digital in climate, urban planning and future cities. He currently leads the place practice at FutureGov, sponsoring accounts and projects spanning design, research and digital in land, planning and the climate emergency. Whilst at the Connected Places Catapult, Stef conceived, designed and sponsored the delivery of the digital planning programme, including advising the Scottish Government and MHCLG on their digital planning strategies. He worked alongside many local authority planners designing and delivering research and innovation projects exploring viability, infrastructure capacity and engagement in planning.
|0900||Chairman’s welcome and introduction
David Whelan, Deputy Editor, agendaNi
|Planning for recovery and growth in Northern Ireland
Chief Planner and Director of Regional Planning, Department for Infrastructure
|Planning case law update
Partner and Head of Planning and Environmental Law Team, Carson McDowell
|Local Development Plan to shape the next decade and beyond
Head of Planning, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
|Building Ireland’s future: Planning for major projects in infrastructure and housing
Chairperson, An Bord Pleanála
|Questions & answers / Panel discussion|
|1115||Placemaking and Community|
|Community engagement in planning projects
Chief Executive, Planning Aid Scotland
|The future of town centres post-pandemic
CEO, Inner City Trust
|Strengthening engagement in planning processes
Dr Louise O’Kane
Planner and Engagement Officer, Community Places
|Imagining the Ecologies of Place
Professor Brian Evans
City Urbanist, Glasgow
|Questions & answers / Panel discussion|
|1400||Planning for the Future|
|Covid-19 as an opportunity to rethink town Urban Planning
Professor Geraint Ellis
School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast
|Climate Action Plan: Putting climate at the heart of planning and development
Director, Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland
|Shaping places with transformative digital planning
Place Director, FutureGov
|The future of planning in Northern Ireland
William Orbinson QC
|Questions & answers / Panel discussion|
Northern Ireland Planning Conference will be using an online platform that will allow speakers and delegates to follow the normal structure of a conference. This will include:
There are a limited number of available sponsorship opportunities at this conference which will be of interest to companies and organisations with products or services they wish to promote. For further information on sponsorship and speaking opportunities and how your organisation can benefit, contact Lynda Millar on 028 9261 9933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.