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Planning experts arrive for global conference

World experts in planning and land use from Australia, South Africa, Canada, North America and Israel are attending a major conference in Belfast this week.

The sixth International Annual Planning, Law and Property Rights Conference, hosted by the University of Ulster's School of the Built Environment, takes place at the Europa Hotel and includes topics like planning for climate change, coastal erosion, affordable housing, regeneration and community engagement.

The city beat competition from Perth in Australia and Pretoria in South Africa to host the event.

Professor Greg Lloyd, head of the School of the Built Environment, said the conference was timely, given last week's announcement of Belfast City Council's three-year, multi-million pound investment programme.

"There are welcome and exciting times ahead with the council's proposed infrastructure and development commitment, which will support businesses, create jobs, promote economic growth and secure regeneration," he said.

"The proposed extension to the Waterfront Hall, which will make it an international convention venue, is a very visible, physical statement that Northern Ireland means business.

"Spending is also expected to be earmarked for upgrading open spaces, providing new sports pitches and installing alley gates across Belfast.

"All of the proposed investment for the city is important, in that it represents affirmative action by the local authority to address economic, social and environmental priorities."