The community problems created by Belfast's ethnic map are complex and severe. Poverty, accentuated by sectarian territory, has created intense social malaise in highly segregated areas of the city. However, there is comparatively little mention of these problems and processes in formal planning documents and it has been left to the community and voluntary sectors to develop locally responsive approaches. Fundamentally, the paper argues that the statutory system could learn much from these initiatives but that a more open, discursive and argumentative style of planning is an essential prerequisite for such a shift to occur.
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