Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd MLA.
Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd attended the British Irish Council (BIC) summit in Guernsey where he chaired a Collaborative Spatial Planning (CSP) forum meeting before presenting discussions and analysis back to the wider summit.
The Minister led discussion on the CSP Working Group’s paper entitled “The Contribution of Spatial Planning to Town Revitalisation and Building Better Places” which was endorsed by Ministers at the summit. The paper highlights a number of the key challenges being faced across the BIC Administrations and explores how these are being addressed.
Commenting after the summit Minister O’Dowd said the meeting had been "most productive".
"It was an opportunity to hear of the work being done in our towns and places across the BIC administrations, share best practice and consider together how challenges faced can be addressed by a spatial planning approach, which moves beyond traditional land use planning and acknowledges the nature and function of space," he explained.
“It is clear from discussions that the role and function of towns across the BIC administrations has changed as a result of changes in behaviour; technology and an ever increasing reliance on the private car. Covid has also had a significant impact on our places; while some places have been negatively impacted by reduced footfall many others have benefitted from an increase in people working remotely and therefore shopping and spending their leisure time locally.
“As we all look to the future, we need to capitalise on the positive changes experienced across our administrations and use these as a foundation to address the many challenges which still lie ahead, including climate change.
“From my own perspective I am keen to provide a range of opportunities to revitalise and support towns across the North of Ireland. In particular, I intend to focus future investment on blue and green infrastructure and the promotion of active and sustainable travel which I believe will encourage people to use their local towns and make them successful, vibrant places.
“I believe that the British Irish Council continues to offer an essential framework for sharing challenges and best practice across our Administrations and I look forward to further and continued engagement on issues of mutual interest.”
“The British Irish Council is an important strand of the Good Friday Agreement and I look forward to a time when all parties get back around the table to work on solutions which will benefit all of the people of these islands during such challenging times for so many of our citizens.”