Planning Aid

RTPI Northern Ireland Branch Planning Aid Service

Have you got a planning problem or want to understand better how the planning system works? Then The Royal Town Planning Institute's Service for Northern Ireland may be able to help

The service covers the whole of Northern Ireland.

What is Planning Aid?

Planning Aid is a free, voluntary service offering independent professional advice and help on town planning matters.

It is aimed at individuals, community groups and other voluntary groups who cannot afford to pay for private consultants.

It is run by a network of volunteer caseworkers, all of whom are qualified Town Planners.

It aims to give people the confidence to help themselves and to become involved in wider planning issues.

Planning Aid is Not part of the Local Council

It is an independent source of advice and information.

How do I get information or advice on a Planning matter?

First of all talk to your local Planning Service, who will often be able to provide the assistance you need.
If you still need help, then a Planning Consultant or Planning Aid may be able to help.

Planning Aid is not a substitute for planning consultancy advice, nor does it draw plans or submit applications on your behalf.

Planning Aid can supply a list of planning consultants in your area or alternatively contact,

If, after reading this information, you feel that we might be able to help or you need information or advice, ring the Planning Aid number at the end of these pages, or write or Email us.

How could Planning Aid help you?

Planning Aid can help you to understand the planning system and suggest how you might best put your views to your local Council. More specifically, it could help you to:

  • Object to or support other people's applications
  • Make your voice heard when local plans are being prepared
  • Draw up your own community plans
  • Apply for planning permission
  • Appeal against a refusal of permission
  • Prepare for a Public Inquiry
  • Deal with other matters covered by planning law (eg Enforcement, Adverts, Tree Preservation Orders, Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)
  • Northern Ireland Planning Aid has a leaflet which could help you to better prepare for making representations regarding a planning application.

What happens to your enquiry?

If your enquiry is straightforward it may be possible to give you an answer over the phone. Often however an enquiry will be referred to a volunteer local to your area or who may have relevant specialist knowledge.

The volunteer, who will not work for the Planning Service or a Council, will get in touch to discuss the case with you. In many cases it is possible to deal with your query over the phone, but sometimes the volunteer may have to visit the site.

Long-term assistance is sometimes possible depending on the time volunteers have available.

Planners and Planning Aid

With the help of a part time co-ordinator funded by the DoE, the service is run by a volunteer steering group and casework is carried out by around 15 volunteers from all over the Province. We are always keen to attract new volunteers from across the Province and from all fields of planning. Volunteers are qualified planners and members of the RTPI. In addition, they are not permitted to carry out voluntary work whilst working for the Planning Service of Northern Ireland because of possible conflicts of interest. Most volunteers are either retired, academics, or consultants.

Planning Aid work gives the opportunity to broaden general planning experience and to gain insight into the system from the public's point of view.

For people seeking experience outside their main areas of expertise, support and mentoring can be arranged with more experienced volunteers.

We also welcome the contributions of current planning students and recent graduates who can become involved in casework with qualified planners, as well as assisting with the other aspects of our work such as research, publicity, fundraising, publications etc.

Is there a cost?

Planning Aid is a free service, although voluntary donations are always welcome, if you feel the service has been helpful. You may also be asked to pay for maps, reports and other documents, which are needed to help you with your case.

On What Basis is the advice given?

While every effort is made to ensure that reasonable care is taken in providing advice, no legal liability is incurred in relation to advice given or responsibility taken for the actions of individuals or groups acting on such advice

To Get in Touch
Regional Planning Aid Co-ordinator:
Gill Aldridge
PO Box 323, Lisburn, BT28 3YJ