People and Place Review

‘People and Place – A Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal’ was launched in June 2003. It was aimed at targeting those urban communities in Northern Ireland suffering the highest levels of deprivation by bringing together the work of all Government Departments in partnership with local people to tackle disadvantage.

The review

As a result of this, the Neighbourhood Renewal, Areas at Risk and Small Pockets of Deprivation programmes have been in place since. There have been subsequent evaluations of these programmes but this has resulted in limited change.

In February 2020, Minister Hargey publically committed to a comprehensive and strategic review of the current People and Place Strategy to improve how the Department addresses the objective need of a place-based approach to tackling deprivation.

Drivers for change

There is recognition that the strategic context within which Neighbourhood Renewal operates has changed since its inception in 2003. Many other Departments now operate place-based approaches to tackling issues; the changing economic and societal landscape not least, as a result of the COVID pandemic; and the development of the Executive’s emerging Anti-poverty Strategy are now key factors in the operating environment. 

It is therefore an opportune time to strategically review the approach to place-based deprivation within this new operating context.

People and Place Review by Co-Design

In line with Minister’s direction, the Review is being conducted via an inclusive Co-Design approach bringing together a range of different stakeholders from both our urban and rural communities in all 11 Council areas across Northern Ireland.

Co-Design is a way of planning that puts local people and their experiences right at the centre of the planning process alongside Government Departments, Councils, statutory organisations and the Community & Voluntary Sector, including Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships.  

We are actively engaging and bringing together people from a wide range of sectors, to draw together their collective experiences, to add their voice and input based on the experience of your community and the issues faced by those for whom the Strategy will deliver.

On a Co-Design basis, it will seek to:

  • build on the success of the People & Place Strategy 2003;
  • develop a new strategy which recommends a more effective, efficient and more integrated place based approach;
  • target objective need which will align with the emerging Anti-Poverty Strategy and the Community Wealth Building framework. 

The Co-Design will operate via a range of structures to complete the Review and strategy development process to inform the shaping of the new strategy and in due course the associated implementation plan, within the Council area localities.

The Department retains the policy responsibility, whilst Minister retains the policy decisions making responsibility. The Department will bring forward the outputs from the Co-Design i.e. a draft strategy and transition plans for Departmental/Executive approval and any subsequent wider consultation.

The Strategic Investment Board is assisting the Department with the development of the Strategy.

Co-Design structures

In line with Ministers direction, the Department for Communities has initiated the People & Place Review to be conducted via an inclusive co-design basis. This will bring together a wide range of stakeholders including Government Departments, Councils, statutory organisations, the Community and Voluntary Sector that includes Neighbourhood Renewal Partnerships and Interest Groups that includes Section 75 groups and regional bodies. 

The co-design structures include the following elements to input and shape the successor Strategy:

  • Locality Co-Design Groups 
  • Regional Advisory Group 
  • Strategy Development Planning Group
  • Interest Groups that inc Sec 75
  • Joint Departmental Group

We recognise the need for the co-design structures to interlink and this will be integral to the co-design process. Therefore mechanisms have been developed to support ongoing discussion and information sharing amongst the structures, including interested parties within the wider stakeholder circle.

This will include a facilitated channel whereby representatives from each of the Co-Design structures, will be present at various design stages and groups to bolster information sharing and learning, in a structured and integrated way.

It is critical that this review and strategy development process is robust, evidence based, challenges current and introduces new thinking and ways of doing things.

People place review current co design structure

Locality Groups

The co-design process began with the establishment of Locality Groups x 11, co-terminus with local Council areas. The purpose of the Locality Groups is to support and inform the development of a successor Strategy and associated implementation plan. The Group will have a key role contributing relevant expertise both professional and lived experience.

The Locality Groups, involve a range of stakeholders including representatives drawn from the:

  • Neighbourhood Renewal structures
  • Wider Voluntary & Community Sector membership  
  • Statutory membership – Education Authority, Health Trusts, NIHE for example   
  • Council officials

To date, 3 Sessions have taken place across the 11 council areas throughout 2022/23;

  • session 1 focused on the existing Strategy (2003)
  • session 2 focused on Community Wealth Building and how this approach could be used as part of an overall solution
  • session 3 focused on the process of structuring the new Strategy around emerging themes. These emerging themes are as a result of a year and a half of pre-engagement with a wide range of stakeholders

We very much want you to be part of the People & Place conversation by taking part in our consultation by adding your voice and input. To deliver the next Strategy based on the experience of your community and the issues they face. Therefore, the same questions that were posed at the Locality Group Sessions in your council area will be made available for your input, so that we hear the opinions of the broadest cross-section of people from across each council area. 

Consolidated outputs for each Locality Group sessions will be published for your information.

Regional Advisory Group

The purpose of the Regional Advisory Group is to offer a strategic view throughout the review and strategy development process and bring forward ideas that might not necessarily be identified by on ground practitioners.  

The RAG comprises of approximately 10 core advisors. Advisors includes those who have knowledge of communities facing deprivation including those with the requisite expert, academic and experiential skill sets.

We will also take this opportunity with RAG members to explore wider thinking on place-based planning with a focus on addressing poverty and disadvantage in both urban and rural areas and across interest groups. This includes seeking advice on what works well within some wider place based and community renewal solutions adopted by other jurisdictions.

Strategy Development Planning Group

A Planning Group has been established and will have a key role in working alongside the DfC People and Place Review Team. The knowledge and experience of representatives from within the Neighbourhood Renewal structures, wider Community and Voluntary Sector and Rural organisations will be harnessed by undertaking planning activities that ensures that the necessary outputs from each of the Co-Design Structures are achieved.

These outputs will be critical in informing the development of the successor Strategy. The Planning Group will meet for the duration of the co-design journey.

Indicative timelines

The indicative co-design timeline whilst not definitive is expected to consist of 2 stages as below:

Stage 1 Strategic Focus: The co-design of new People & Place strategy (ongoing)

Stage 2 Delivery Focus:  The co-design of implementation and transition plans

The timescales for the delivery of the Strategy are unclear and will depend on when an Executive is formed.  Subject to Minister being in place, the following timeline shows the current planning assumptions:

  • by December 2023 to complete a first draft of Strategy [assuming Minister in place].
  • by Spring 2024 to submit a new Strategy to the Executive [followed by public consultation period].
  • by April 2025 to begin implementation of the new strategy.

Subject to approval, the aim would be to commence transition and implementation of the new strategy from April 2025

There are no plans to change the delivery of Neighbourhood Renewal in 2023/24.


    The People and Place Review team is committed to communication and engagement activities that ensures effective and consistent messaging both to those involved in the co-design process, elected members and wider interested stakeholders. As part of this, a quarterly Newsletter will be published which will provide ongoing progress updates, including links to ensure that you have an opportunity to have your say.


    If you have any queries on the Review process contact People and Place Review team.

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