Mallon launches Planning Engagement Partnership – to improve community engagement in the planning process

Date published: 20 October 2020


Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced the establishment of a Planning Engagement Partnership.

DfI Minister Nichola Mallon
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon

The Partnership will look at how to enhance the quality and depth of community engagement in the planning process at both the regional and local planning levels and help to improve the planning system experience for users.

The Partnership will bring together a cross-section of key planning stakeholders involved in planning in Northern Ireland including Community Places, an organisation with extensive experience in providing support to people and communities engaging in the planning process.

Minister Mallon said:

“A key aspect of the reforms to the planning system introduced over five years ago was to improve community engagement in the planning process. Public participation is an important part of the planning process and it is imperative that we look at ways to improve the community’s interaction with it, whether that be through commenting on your council’s local development plan or planning applications, or responding to consultations on policy or guidance.

“Recently, community engagement has come into sharp focus during the COVID-19 crisis, with my Department putting in place temporary legislation and guidance to enable councils to continue to process major planning applications during this challenging time. Community Places and other stakeholders assisted in looking at alternative ways that meaningful community consultation on these applications can be maintained.”

Colm Bradley, Director, Community Places said: “We hope this partnership will provide enhanced and properly resourced community engagement in the planning system, creating a more level playing field for communities and individuals to have a real say in shaping the places which matter most to them.”

The Minister concluded:

“This forum provides an opportunity for sharing experience, good practice and learning gained through the operation of the planning system over the last five years, and for considering what more we can do to enhance community involvement. The Partnership is part of our ongoing work to improve the planning system, and people’s experience of the planning system.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. The overall purpose of the Planning Engagement Partnership is to enhance the quality and depth of community engagement in the planning process at both the regional and local planning levels. The first Partnership meeting is taking place on 21 October 2020. It is anticipated that the Partnership will run for six to nine months and prepare a final report, including a series of key recommendations for improvement.
  2. Community Places is an independent and not-for-profit organisation with 30 years’ expertise in planning, community planning and engagement. More information on this organisation is available at:
  3. The Planning (Development Management) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 have been amended to temporarily suspend the requirement to hold a public event as part of pre-application community consultation on major planning applications until 31 March 2021.
  4. Health advice and information on government services is available at: and
  5. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at: The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  6. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure

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