Who’s who in local planning

agendaNi profiles the planning managers for each of the 11 local councils.

John Linden
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council: John Linden
John Linden (MIPI) is a professionally qualified planner with over 27 years’ work experience. After completing his post-graduate diploma in Town and Country Planning at Queen’s University Belfast in 1987, John commenced his career working for a number of English local planning authorities gaining experience of both rural and urban environments. Following his return to Northern Ireland in the early 1990s he worked in a wide range of planning posts within the Department of the Environment.

Following postings in a number of divisional planning offices he was appointed to the department’s planning team responsible for the preparation of planning policy statements and regional guidance documents, a role he performed for almost 10 years. Following a short period heading up work on Northern Ireland’s first marine plan, John moved to the South Antrim Area Planning Office where he was appointed as Area Planning Manager in April 2013.

On the transfer of planning powers to the new councils in April 2015, John was appointed as Head of Planning for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council where he is now responsible for delivery of an effective planning process that will promote positive development within the borough. He leads a team of 35 staff working within the Council’s Directorate responsible for community planning and regeneration.

Damian Mulligan
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council: Damian Mulligan
Damian has worked as a planner for 25 years. After studying Town and Country Planning at Queen’s University Belfast, he worked in London for 13 years, giving him valuable insight into how planning functions in the local government context.
In 2003, he joined Department of the Environment’s Planning Service where he spent 12 years, mainly within the Strategic Planning Division, Belfast.

He became Planning Manager for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in September 2014, where he has responsibility for 39 highly motivated and professional staff.

The planning office for the new council area will remain in the short term at Marlborough House, Craigavon but in the longer term will relocate to Banbridge.

Barbara Elliot
Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Council: Barbara Elliott
Barbara joined the Department of the Environment in 1989, and has worked in a wide variety of posts, ranging from strategic planning when she was involved in the production of the first regional development strategy, to the preparation of detailed planning guidance.
Barbara has also been involved in preparing planning policy and spent a number of years working on the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP).

Prior to taking up post as Planning Manager in Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Council, Barbara spent over two years as Area Planning Manager, based in Downpatrick Divisional Planning Office, where she was responsible for planning in a number of council areas.
Barbara now heads the planning team in Lisburn and Castlereagh council, which is located in the Island Civic Centre in Lisburn.

Phil Williams
Belfast City Council: Phil Williams
Phil Williams took up the newly created post of Director of Planning and Place at Belfast City Council in June 2015. Phil has over 35 years’ planning experience, most recently with City of Cardiff Council where he was head of Planning Services, overseeing major projects including the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay.

Phil heads up a team of 44 planning staff, including Area Planning Manager, Clifford McIlwaine, who brings over 40 years’ experience from Department of the Environment’s Planning Service, and the newly appointed Development Policy and Plans Manager, Keith Sutherland who has 26 years’ experience in local government, most recently in Belfast.

Denise Dickson
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council: Denise Dickson
Denise graduated from Queen’s University Belfast and is a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. From commencing with the Department of the Environment in 2000 Denise transferred into the Business Support team, later transferring to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on 1st April 2015 as Head of Planning. Denise has responsibility for planning within the borough which includes Northern Ireland’s only world heritage site, the Giant’s Causeway.

Maura Fox
Derry City and Strabane District Council: Maura Fox
After graduating in 1994, Maura held temporary posts within the Department of the Environment in a research development strategy position as well as a planning assistant in Derry and Coleraine. In 1997 she obtained her first permanent Professional and Technical Officer position and gained Royal Town Planning Institute membership as a result of this experience.

Maura then worked in a number of roles to build up experience in the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service in Derry and Coleraine offices covering development management, conservation, development plan, Derry Action Plan 2011 from draft to adoption and Northern Area Plan 2015 to draft stage. During this period Maura moved up professional grades three times to Principal Planning Officer within the department.

In 2012, she was promoted to Area Planning Manager for the South Antrim Division in Ballymena covering all functions of Department planning. Then, in 2013, Maura was appointed to the Northern Division as Area Planning Manager which had responsibility for Derry and Coleraine planning offices and six districts of Derry, Strabane, Limavady, Coleraine, Ballymoney and Moyle. From 1 April Maura took up her post as Head of Planning within Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Paul Duffy
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council: Paul Duffy
Prior to taking up the post of Head of Planning for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Paul worked as a Principal Planner for Department of the Environment’s Planning Service, in the Chief Planners Office, providing professional planning advice to the Minister and the local area planning offices.

Paul graduated from the University of Dundee in 1994 with a BSc Honours Degree in Town and Regional Planning. In 1996 Paul completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Urban Design at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Paul then joined Department of the Environment’s Planning Service in 1999, working in the Northern Area Planning Office in County Hall, Coleraine. During his time in Coleraine, Paul was responsible for development management and enforcement in Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymoney and Moyle council districts.

Deirdre McSorley
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council: Deirdre McSorley
Deirdre has worked in planning for over 30 years. Having obtained an Honours degree in Town and Country Planning from South Bank College in London, she started her career in the Northern Ireland Housing Executive before moving to the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service in 1985. Deirdre has worked as a planning officer in several of the planning offices across Northern Ireland in development management, enforcement and development plan. She also worked closely with the Belfast Development Office on regeneration projects associated with the ‘peace lines’ and in the Regional Development Strategy team.

Deirdre took up the post of Area Planning Manager for the Southern Area Planning Office in 2012 before moving as Area Planning Manager to the Western Planning Office.

On 1 April, 2015 Deirdre took up the post of Head of Planning for Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. The council covers the largest geographical area of all 11 councils. Planning functions are delivered from offices in Omagh and in Enniskillen.

Chris Boomer

Mid Ulster District Council: Chris Boomer
Dr Chris Boomer has 30 years planning experiencing working first in the voluntary sector and in local government in England before moving to the Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland. He has undertaken full range of planning duties culminating in leading plan making across most of Northern Ireland before moving to Mid Ulster District Council. He considers his new role to be both challenging and rewarding and has already overseen positive changes in the delivery of planning in Mid Ulster.

Anthony McKay
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council: Anthony McKay
Anthony McKay has worked in planning for 25 years. He is a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Manchester. He spent ten years working in local government planning in England, firstly with St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council and subsequently with Leeds City Council. Anthony joined the Department of the Environment in 1999. He has worked in Planning Service Headquarters on minerals planning, waste planning, windfarms and major infrastructure projects, before moving to the Southern Area Planning Office in 2013. He took up the post of Chief Planning Officer for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on 1 April 2015.

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