Planning Portal

Environment Minister launches consultation on first ever combined Urban and Stewardship Design Guide

Published on Thu, 8 Aug 2013 by
Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has launched the UK’s first ever consultation on an urban stewardship and design guide.
Traditionally stewardship, the way in which our urban places are managed and maintained, has been considered separately from the processes of planning and design. However, with the introduction of “Living Places”, urban stewardship and design are treated in equal measure, owing to the contribution they both make to the quality of the urban environment and the role individuals have to play.

The Minister launched a consultation on the draft “Living Places” design guide during a visit to an Urban Design Academy in Bangor, hosted by PLACE – the built environment centre for Northern Ireland. The Academy encourages young people to think creatively and explore ways to shape their local areas and is based in a former retail unit on Bangor’s main street. Using empty retail units in this way proves that thinking laterally can enhance the offering and environment of the high street and demonstrate alternative use of urban space.

Excellence in stewardship and design both have a contribution to make to the quality of our towns and cities and this consultation seeks to bring these two elements together for the first time and make them a consideration in planning decisions. It is also anticipated that it will be used by other Departments involved in urban design and management as well as other professionals, community groups and the general public.

Mark H Durkan said: “This design guide is a common sense approach to planning which Northern Ireland is leading the way on. A combined stewardship and design guide does not exist anywhere else in the UK. This brings together planning and design but looks beyond to see how this will work on the ground in the management and maintenance of our towns and cities.

“I am encouraging everyone to have a say in this consultation as it has a real impact on all of us. The design of our towns and cities can have a positive impact on our lifestyles. Attractive, well maintained, well managed and well connected streets encourage more people to walk and cycle to local destinations which will improve health and reduce traffic, energy use and pollution. Better for the environment; better for all of us. Have your say and help create places where you want to live and work.”

Michael Corr, Creative Director of PLACE said: “The PLACE team are really excited to be involved with the Living Places Urban Design Manual and are looking forward to working with the Department of the Environment and the wider community on this ground breaking initiative.”

Have your say on the design guide, “Living Places” from 8 August – 31 October 2013 at

Notes to editors:

1. This document is the culmination of work initiated following representation from FAB (Forum for Alternative Belfast) and PLACE (The Architecture & Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland – Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Community and Environment).

2. Work on the document has been inputted to throughout by a steering group of key stakeholders from within and outside of government.

3. The period for public consultation for draft ‘Living Places’ runs from 8 August 2013 to 31 October 2013. Hard copies of the guide can be obtained from any of the local area planning offices as well as Planning Policy Division, Millennium House, Third Floor, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, Malone Lower, Belfast, BT2 7BN.

4. For media enquiries and photos contact DOE Press Office Tel: 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, call the Duty Press Officer on 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
Get Adobe Reader software (link opens in a new browser window)