Profile image of Dr Gavan Rafferty

Dr Gavan Rafferty

Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Development

Profile image of Dr Gavan Rafferty


Built Environment Research


Room 04B06 Shore Road Newtownabbey Co. Antrim BT37 0QB



Dr Gavan Rafferty, PhD, MSc, BA (Hons.), MRTPI, Pg Cert HEP, FHEA, is a Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Development at the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment, and is a member of the Built Environment Research Institute (BERI). He joined Ulster University in 2009, having previously worked as a Lecturer (2007-2009) and Research Assistant (2005-2007) at Queen's University Belfast, and a Development Control Officer (2004-2005) at the (then) Planning Service in Northern Ireland.

His doctoral research comprised a longitudinal study of ‘contested space’ and ‘shared space’ in Belfast, examining the relationship between ‘people’, ‘place’ and ‘power’.  Gavan has a Master of Science (MSc) in Town and Country Planning, with Distinction, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography from Queen's University Belfast.

Gavan's research interests include: the interplay between community planning (integrated service delivery) and spatial planning (land use development); community engagement and participation; regeneration and urban governance in post-conflict societies/contested spaces; inclusive planning for creating healthy places; European and cross-border spatial planning. He was project coordinator of the ERASMUS+ (Community Participation in Planning - CPiP) project at Ulster University, collaborating with Community Places (UK), the University of Aveiro (Portugal) and the Politecnico di Milano (Italy) to co-design, teach and test different ways of engaging stakeholders in both spatial planning (place-making) and community planning (service delivery).

Gavan is a member of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) - and is a past Chairperson of the RTPI Northern Ireland Branch (2009-2010). He is Ulster University’s representative on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Community Planning Officers Working Group, and representative on Belfast Healthy Cities’ Healthy Places Group.  He has worked with a number of local authorities and government agencies in the fields of spatial/land use planning, community planning and community engagement.