About DfI Planning
Role of the Department
The Department’s Planning functions are split between two divisions - Strategic Planning and Planning Policy.
The Strategic Planning Division is responsible for processing planning applications deemed to be of regional significance or those which may be ‘called in’ from the local councils. In addition, the Division carries out an operational oversight and plan scrutiny role as part of the new two-tier planning system, as well as providing dedicated support to the Chief Planner in Londonderry/Derry. The Division is also responsible for taking forward work flowing from the Reinvestment & Reform Initiative specifically in relation to Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast and St. Lucia Barracks, Omagh.
The Planning Policy Division develops planning legislation and policy in line with Ministerial direction as well as providing advice and guidance on design, policy and practice. The Division is also responsible for the review, monitoring and implementation of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) 2035 which was published in March 2012. In addition, the Division provides support to the local councils in monitoring performance management and to bring forward continuous improvement initiatives.
Both Divisions are located in Clarence Court in Belfast whilst the Chief Planner’s office is located in Ebrington Square, Londonderry/Derry.
DfI Planning is led by the Chief Planner with support from two Directors. Details of each post holder are listed below.
Chief Planner: Fiona McCandless
Fiona McCandless, MRTPI was appointed Chief Planner in April 2014 and is responsible for the overall leadership, management and delivery of the Department’s planning responsibilities.
Fiona provides advice and support to the Infrastructure Minister and the Northern Ireland Assembly on planning matters.
She is a chartered town planner and graduate of Queen’s University Belfast. She worked in a number of public sector posts before joining what was then the Department of the Environment in 1998.
Fiona's Personal Secretary is Caroline O'Doherty (Tel: 028 7131 4136)
Director, Strategic Planning Division: Carol Ramsey
Carol Ramsey took up the post of Director of Strategic Planning Division in December 2015. She is a chartered Town Planner with over 33 years experience working in both the private and public sector, including posts in the NIHE, the former DOE Planning Service and in Belfast Regeneration Directorate in what was then the Department for Social Development (DSD).
During her tenure in DSD, Carol notably was responsible for spearheading the comprehensive redevelopment scheme at Victoria Square in Belfast City Centre. She was also responsible for drafting and implementing Regeneration Policy in Belfast City Centre for over 13 years.
Carol currently sits on the Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute (NI Region) and is a member of the Board of Clanmil Housing Association.
Carol's Personal Secretary is Fiona Nic Giolla Phadraig (Tel: 028 9054 0647)
Director, Planning Policy Division: Angus Kerr
Angus Kerr was appointed Director of Planning Policy Division in January 2012. He is a chartered Town Planner with over 20 years experience working in a wide range of planning posts within the public sector.
Angus worked in the team that prepared the original Regional Development Strategy (RDS) and helped to bring forward a number of development plans across Northern Ireland. He more recently was responsible for overseeing the completion of the Department’s Planning Reform and Transfer Project as part of the wider Local Government Reform programme. As such, he played an instrumental role in bringing forward the most significant changes to the planning system in Northern Ireland in over 40 years, introducing a new two tier, plan led system and the transfer of the majority of planning functions to local councils in April 2015.
Angus's Personal Secretary is Julie Maroadi (Tel: 028 9054 0645)