‘Planning My City’ was a weeklong event at the Ulster Museum held as part of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) centenary celebrations. It was staged in partnership with Belfast Healthy Cities, and the planning schools at Queens University and Ulster University, with sponsorship from the Department of the Environment, Belfast City Council and Eplani.
A range of activities provided an opportunity for children to demonstrate what they believe is required to produce a healthy and enjoyable place to live and work. Facilitated workshops helped participants explore how a city is designed, what the uses of buildings could be, where they should be located and how they would contribute to the life of the city. Using a model, based on Belfast, designed by Ulster University architecture students children were able to create their own miniature city and try out their ideas. The programme also included arts and crafts, paper-bag houses, a photo wall, computer modelling/interactive areas, Lego ® workshops and free play suitable for all ages.
During the week, the event received a visit from Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Nichola Mallon, who said “This is a great initiative! Here’s hoping it will get our young people thinking about what makes a vibrant and healthy city that is an enjoyable place to live and visit. It is encouraging to see so many children participating in this free, innovative event. What better way to foster a better environment and stronger economy than to educate our children, through play, about their built environment from primary school age”.
RTPI NI Policy Officer Claire Williamson indicated ‘RTPI NI is excited to have had the opportunity to develop this project, the enthusiasm from the partners and sponsors is clear; it really has captured our imaginations. We are enjoying being part of what the children produce and learning from them in addition to portraying a positive message about the role of planning in the creation of the built environment’.
Joan Devlin, Chief Executive, Belfast Healthy Cities stated ‘This is an exciting opportunity for children who live in Belfast to imagine the city as they would like it to be, in a way that is fun while also encouraging them to learn about the role of planners.
‘Belfast Healthy Cities is particularly pleased to be involved, in partnership with RTPI, Queen’s University and Ulster University, as evidence shows that the quality of the built environment has a significant influence on the health and wellbeing of children. We already work with children on a number of projects and we know they are interested in their environment and an event like this is a great way to get them to think about how places can be improved. Who knows, perhaps some of the children taking part this week will become the healthy planners of the future.’