Belfast planning chief takes over as RTPI president

Phil Williams, director of planning and place at Belfast City Council, has become the new president of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Phil Williams
Phil Williams

Williams used his inauguration speech earlier this week to back the role of planners in creating positive communities.

"Having worked in the planning profession for over three decades, I am a firm believer in how planning makes a difference," he said.

"The interface between planners in local government, and the private and voluntary sectors is critical to the delivery of solutions to key challenges that face society, and communities within society, at every level.

"Planners think differently to all other professions, more holistically, more laterally and always balancing the options of choice in a measured and objective way. It’s what we do best, and what others need to rely on."

Williams said placing planners at the centre of debate was his theme for 2016.

"Planning has a relationship with people in the communities that we serve, and politicians who are democratically elected by those communities," he said.

"We have a relationship with people and politicians, and they have a relationship between themselves. We are all striving for a better society, a better sense of place within the community.

"If you take planning and planners out of that triangular relationship, the prospect of delivering balanced communities where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time in, and that politicians strive for won’t be realised and the triangle collapses."

Williams also praised outgoing president Janet Askew.

"She has worked tirelessly over the past year, setting the bar at the highest level," he said.

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