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Winner of RTPI NI Joanne Mathers Award Announced

25 October 2012

Research into the impact of Belfast’s cultural quarters on the city’s regeneration has secured a top award for a student from the University of Ulster’s School of the Built Environment.

Keith Henry scooped the 2012 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI NI) Joanne Mathers Award, presented in memory of the young mother who was shot dead by the IRA in 1981 as she collected census forms in the Gobnascale area of Derry~Londonderry.

The Award is presented annually to the University of Ulster MSci Planning and Property Development degree student who has performed best in their final year research project.

Keith, who is currently a PhD Planning student at Ulster, examined the use of cultural quarters as a process of promoting social regeneration in Belfast.

He found that greater stakeholder collaboration is needed to ensure different viewpoints are heard and acted upon.

His research also showed that each cultural quarter must not be planned in isolation but designed and developed in sympathy with adjoining quarters and neighbourhoods.

MSci Planning and Property Development Course Director, Dr Neale Blairpaid tribute to Joanne Mathers’ family and the RTPI for their continuing support.

“This Award provides an added incentive for students to excel in their final year research project,” he said.

“The client-based nature of Keith’s project reflects the type of practice a student will undertake in his or her professional career and therefore enhances their employability skills.”

Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment said Keith’s research showed the importance of gathering robust evidence in order to facilitate regeneration which will promote the well-being of Belfast.

“It demonstrates the significance of land use planning in delivering effective engagement. We are delighted for Keith and wish him well in his doctoral studies.”

Keith is originally from Newry but is now living in Lisburn.

Caption: Dr Neale Blair, MSci Planning and Property Development Course Director, University of Ulster; Keith Henry, former MSci Planning and Property Development student, University of Ulster and David Brown, RTPI Northern Ireland Chair.