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University of Ulster Law lecturer John Thompson - one of the keynote speakers at the Community Planning Initiative’s inaugural conference in Londonderry's Millennium Forum today – says that planning decisions can impact on everyone.

The planning challenges facing a divided community were on the agenda at the conference and delegates had an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns on planning issues.

The conference theme ‘Living in the Solution’ was addressed through a series of presentations, discussions and workshops with a specific focus on community planning, mediated solutions and community capacity building.

CPI is a Derry-based not-for-profit organisation established in 2007. Its activities include advice and information on planning issues, capacity building workshops, assistance in the preparation of local community plans and strategies, mentoring support, facilitating good practice in community planning.

Mr Thompson, who has a research interest in community planning, is one of its founder members.

“CPI aims to help promote good practice in community planning and assist communities develop their own plans for neighbourhood improvements and community facilities.

“Many local city centre businesses employing local people are facing an uncertain future. Planning issues can impact on everyone and this conference gave people an opportunity to have their say on matters that will affect them long into the future.”

Speakers included Dr LP Byrne, Dr Helena Schlindwein, director the locally based CHATS initiative, and as well as representatives of the local business community.