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Thursday, 24 October 2013

University of Ulster student Alex O'Hara receives the 2013 RTPI Joanne Mathers Award

Research into the importance of integrating public health issues with urban planning has secured a top award (the 2013 Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI NI) Joanne Mathers Award) for a student from the University of Ulster’s School of the Built Environment.


Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment,
Alex O’Hara, recipient of the Joanne Mathers Award and
Carol Ramsey, Chairperson Royal Town Planning Institute (NI)

Alex O’Hara from Ballyclare, graduated earlier this year and undertook his research with Belfast Healthy Cities, a citywide partnership working to improve the population’s health equity and wellbeing.

He reviewed a wide range of existing national and international publications to identify why planning matters to health. His research supported the view that a quality built environment can greatly affect the standard of health and wellbeing of those who interact with it.

Alex’s research also showed that further work needs to be undertaken to improve the level of mutual understanding and integration between planning and health professionals.

Gavan Rafferty, Lecturer in Spatial Planning and Development, said Belfast Healthy Cities was delighted with the quality of Alex’s work.

He added: “His research provided added value to the organisation’s commitment to developing knowledge of building healthier cities. It also has the potential to inform wider practice in Northern Ireland, demonstrating the benefits of students undertaking ‘real life’ research projects.”

Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment at Ulster congratulated Alex on his “well-deserved” success.

He said: “These are exciting and promising times for planning in Northern Ireland, with a reformed land use planning system in hand, the Review of Public Administration and the introduction of community planning to take place shortly – and this prestigious award reflects these ambitions.

“It is richly deserved by Alex and I wish him every success in his career. The School of the Built Environment is very proud of him.”


Caption (l-r): Professor Greg Lloyd, Head of the School of the Built Environment, Alex O’Hara, student recipient of the Joanne Mathers Award and Carol Ramsey, Chairperson Royal Town Planning Institute (NI)

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