World experts in all aspects of planning and land use are jetting into Belfast this week to take part in a major four-day conference organised by the University of Ulster.
Delegates from as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Canada, North America and Israel are attending the sixth International Annual Planning, Law and Property Rights Conference, hosted by Ulster’s School of the Built Environment.
Topics under discussion include: planning for climate change; coastal erosion and flooding; affordable housing and land values; regeneration and community engagement.
The spotlight is also being cast on the economic and legal dimensions of land use and the ways in which property rights can ensure land is utilised in the wider public interest
Delegates will present innovative research and engage in informed, interdisciplinary debates during the conference, which is being held in Belfast’s Europa Hotel from February 7 until February 10.
The International Association of Planning Law and Property Rights was formed in the late 1990s to consider three inter-related agendas – planning, law and property.
These areas focus on the evolving – and often conflicting and difficult – relationships between public and private interests in the use and development of land.
The Belfast event is the Association’s sixth international conference and the city beat off stiff competition from Perth in Western Australia and Pretoria in South Africa to host it.
Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment, said the conference would give delegates a chance to reflect on the complexities of land use in our modern world.
“We tend to take it for granted and fail to acknowledge its intrinsic qualities. It’s not just location, location, location as the TV would have us believe,” he explained.
“Land use brings with it complex layers of history, culture and ownership and involves matters of tenure and property rights.
“It has different values relating to such issues as fertility, the environment and meeting community needs for housing and infrastructure. Our conference will offer some exciting opportunities to see how other countries are planning for the future.
“The old ways of living and working are gone and we will have to devise new ways forward – cutting our cloth will likely become the new philosophy. We need to plan for that.”
Professor Lloyd talked of the positive impact that Belfast City Council’s three-year, multi-million pound Investment Programme would bring to the city.
“There are welcome and exciting times ahead with the Council’s proposed infrastructure and development commitment, which will support businesses, create employment, promote economic growth and secure regeneration and community development,” he said.
“The proposed extension to the Waterfront Hall, which will make it an international convention venue, is a very visible, physical statement that Northern Ireland means business.
“Spending is also expected to be earmarked for upgrading open spaces including public parks, providing new sports pitches and installing alley gates across Belfast.
“All of the proposed investment for the city is important, in that it represents affirmative action by the local authority to address economic, social and environmental priorities.
“It also captures new thinking about the case for public sector investment in infrastructure and the environment.
“Both the negative and the positive aspects of our planning will need careful consideration to mitigate the worst effects and adapt to new opportunities.”
For more information on the conference visit: www.ulster.ac.uk/plpr2012
Caption: Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment