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: Alistair Beggs
Alistair Beggs, BSc MSc MRTPI, was appointed Director of Strategic Planning Division in February 2018. A graduate of Dundee University, he is a Chartered Town Planner with over 25 years experience working in a wide range of planning posts.
Prior to spending 13 years with the Planning Appeals and Water Appeals Commissions Alistair worked with Dundee City Council, Angus Council and Fife Council.
Alistair's Personal Secretary is Fiona Nic Giolla Phadraig (Tel: 028 9054 0647)
Director, Planning Policy Division: Angus Kerr
Angus Kerr, BA MSc DipMS MRTPI, was appointed Director of Planning Policy Division in January 2012 where he is responsible for Regional Planning and developing planning legislation and policy in line with Ministerial direction.
Angus is a chartered Town Planner with over 24 years’ experience working in a wide range of planning posts within both the Department of the Environment and the Department for Regional Development.
Angus was recently Project Director over the planning reform and transfer project which was responsible for reforming the planning system and transferring the majority of planning functions to the new 11 Councils in April 2015.
Angus's Personal Secretary is Julie Maroadi (Tel: 028 9054 0645)