Collaborative Spatial Planning


The Collaborative Spatial Planning (CSP) Work Sector was established in 2009 in order to share expertise and learning across the eight BIC administrations and to develop common policies and approaches on spatial planning issues. Collaborative Spatial Planning is defined as planning that goes beyond traditional land use planning to integrate policies for the development and use of land with other policies and programmes that influence both the nature and function of places.

Lead Administration

The Northern Ireland Executive is the lead administration and chairs the CSP work sector.

Recent Activity

Alongside joint work with the Housing work sector, the preparation of a new work plan has been one of the areas of key focus of the CSP work sector in recent times.

The value of working collaboratively with the Housing work sector to address shared policy challenges has been realised and culminated in a joint symposium, hosted in Belfast in November 2019 on Age Friendly approaches to Housing and Collaborative Spatial Planning. This symposium considered how policy professionals might address some of the key spatial planning and housing challenges in the period up to 2040. Over one hundred policy professionals, academics, statutory bodies and external stakeholders from across the eight BIC Member Administrations joined together to collectively address key challenges which might help to better shape future policy making. Presentations, workshop discussions and debate added further context and fed useful insights to policy makers and the event also drew upon reports generated by the Demography work sector which was wound down in late 2016.

This was the first joint sectoral event held within the Council framework and organised by the two work sectors in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Executive Departments for Communities and Infrastructure.

To consider the collaborative work undertaken by the Housing and Collaborative Spatial Planning work sectors, the first BIC Joint Ministerial meeting was hosted virtually by the Northern Ireland Executive in February 2021, bringing together Ministers from all eight Member Administrations with responsibility for Housing and Spatial Planning. Ministers reviewed the work completed by both work sectors in recent years, as well as the joint work undertaken, culminating in the joint symposium in November 2019.

To capture the rich perspectives and experiences shared at the symposium, a policy guide on ‘Creating an Inclusive Future Vision for our Ageing Populations’[Insert link], was developed, and the publication of this guide was endorsed by Ministers at the Joint Ministerial meeting.

Current Focus

At the Ministerial meeting, as well as reflecting on the  work completed, Ministers considered the future challenges for approaches to CSP, and endorsed a future focus for the work sector over the next two-three years, through the lens of recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Areas of future focus will include:

  • The Contribution of spatial planning to the revitalisation of towns: Towns across the BIC administrations are changing in terms of their role and function and as a result of changes in behaviour, technology and an increased reliance on the private car.  An opportunity exists to revitalise our towns and make them locations where people want to live, do business and spend their leisure time.  The work sector will explore the urban and rural dimension of town revitalisation in the context of post Covid-19 recovery and will consider how positive place making can support town revitalisation and the decarbonisation agenda.    
  • The Contribution of spatial planning to ‘Build Better Places’ in the context of Covid-19 recovery: Covid-19 has brought about significant changes in how people live, work and do business.  Our places have quickly been transformed to meet the need for social distancing; people are now more likely to work and shop remotely and are spending more time in their local community.  Reliance on local services has increased and, as less time is spent travelling to and from work, walking and cycling closer to home has increased.  While this has had a positive impact on health and wellbeing, challenges remain in terms of ensuring equitable access to necessary services and facilities.  The CSP work sector will consider the key positive and negative impacts of Covid-19 across the administrations, identifying best practice responses and experience of developing post-Covid-19 towns as places for retail, work and leisure. Consideration will also be given to how post-Covid place making can contribute to supporting the green economy and the decarbonisation agenda and contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing.
  • Consider best practice in  National/Regional Planning Frameworks: The CSP work sector will continue to share best practice in respect of developing and implementing national and regional planning frameworks across the administrations.  Members will continue to share best practice and information to ensure a balanced approach to regional spatial development across the administrations
  • Promote expert learning and experience sharing: The work sector will continue to function as a place of learning for its members and administrations will collectively explore opportunities to develop and promote the work sector by working with external experts and inviting them to engage with the work sector around areas of key interest, with a particular focus on those themes set out above. 

Further Information

Collaborative Spatial Planning & Housing Joint Ministerial Communiqué - Virtual - 25 February 2021