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Belfast's planning service faces overhaul

Words: Roger Milne
Belfast City Council / Shutterstock_506897542

Belfast City Council has confirmed that it is reforming its planning service following recommendations in a report commissioned from Scotland’s former chief planner Jim Mackinnon.

In October, The Planner reported that Belfast City Council had engaged Mackinnon to carry out a “high-level review” of how the capital’s planning service has managed the transition from central to local government.

The council’s planning director Phil Williams has left the local authority. Keith Sutherland, a senior planner, is currently running the service on an interim basis until a replacement for Williams is recruited.

A statement sent to The Planner by Belfast City Council confirmed these moves. A council spokesperson said: “Belfast City Council can confirm it is to reform its planning service with a renewed focus on customer relations following recommendations in a report it commissioned by Scotland’s former chief planner, Jim Mackinnon

“As Belfast continues to experience an unprecedented level of growth the new measures have been designed to improve the quality and speed of the application process. It is too early to release details as the draft recommendations have yet to be shared with elected members but will be shared in due course.

“As part of a longer-term corporate change plan, Belfast City Council is currently recruiting for a number of appointments to its new senior management team including a Director for Planning and Building Control. That process has been under way for some time.

“A senior planning manager within the department is going to take the lead in planning on an interim basis while recruitment for the new director role completes. Mr Mackinnon continues to act in an expert advisory capacity to help move the service forward.”

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