The Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning
School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

David Houston

Research Statement


A European research consortium which includes the School of Environmental Planning at Queen’s, has successfully bid for funding for a major project on rural planning and development. The total value of the collaborative initiative runs out at €4,100,000 and brings together Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Fondation Rurale de Wallonie in Belgium, National University of Ireland Maynooth and Local Development Training Institute Ltd in Ireland, Region Champagne-Ardenne and Reims University in France, and Rural Community Network and Queen’s in Northern Ireland.

The project is being funded under the EU INTERREG 111B North West Europe programme which is devoted to giving support to transnational co-operation in the field of spatial development. The Queen’s project seeks to build on the guiding principles of polycentricity and rural-urban partnership as laid down by the European Spatial Development Perspective and will look at new ways to stimulate indigenous development and balanced growth.


A research report on the state of play on services in rural Northern Ireland, prepared by a team from the School of Environmental Planning at Queen's, has been published by the Rural Development Council (RDC). The report was commissioned as part of the wider rural baseline initiative of the RDC. At the launch of the study the Chief Executive of the RDC welcomed the questions and challenges set out in the analysis and indicated that the research has persuaded the RDCto realign its current programmes, as well as reshape its thinking on future policy and programmes.

The report was prepared by John Greer, David Houston, Michael Murray and Brendan Murtagh. It contains the results of a questionnaire survey of the membership of Rural Community Network, a comparative review of services in rural England and Scotland, and three case studies relating to rural transport, ATMs and waste recycling.

Copies of the report can be obtained from Rural Development Council, 17 Loy Street, Cookstown, Northern Ireland, BT80 8PZ.


In 2001 the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council decided to undertake a pilot project to generate an information baseline on rural Northern Ireland. This is designed to inform public bodies in the execution of their rural proofing obligations. As part of that exercise, a research award to Queen's University is funding baseline research on rural services. The work comprises a comparative review of the state of play in England and Wales, a questionnaire survey of rural citizens, and case studies relating to the provision of public transport, ATMs and local waste recycling facilities. The project will conclude in late 2002. Outputs to date include:

Greer, J; Murray, M; Houston, D and Murtagh, B (2002) Baselining rural services in Northern Ireland - Research Note 1. Economic Outlook and Business Review, Vol 17, No 2, pp30-32 .

Greer, J; Murray, M; Houston, D and Murtagh, B (2002) Baselining rural services in Northern Ireland - Research Note 2. Economic Outlook and Business Review, Vol 17, No 3, pp44-45.

Greer, J; Murray, M; Houston, D and Murtagh, B (2002) Baselining rural services in Northern Ireland - Research Note 3. Economic Outlook and Business Review, Vol 17, No 4, pp57-61.

Cost C10

The main objective of this action is to identify and recognize the forces and values of European "common city outskirts". A very good knowledge of these is necessary for elected representatives, urban civil engineers (planners and architects) to have the basis for design and to propose realistic physical projects and structurations, shapes and transformations of these areas, that would then be coherent with political ambitions, business logistics, the notions of quality called for by the resident population and with respect with a sustainable development.


Planning and Architecture Database for Ireland is a unique database on Irish architecture and planning, the result of an innovative cross-border partnership between Queen's University and University College Dublin. PADDI (Planning Architecture Design Database Ireland) has been created by the architecture and planning libraries at both universities to meet the worldwide demand for information on architecture and planning issues in Ireland, north and south.

The Database is now available on the WWW, the website contains more than 16,000 entries referencing books, journals, reports, planning documents, theses and other material on architecture, building construction and the environment.

Cost C2

The main objective of this action is to study the effect "Large Scale Infra-Structures has on the Quality of Urban Space". The Belfast study was based the new weir and M3 road bridge.


This project established a database of biblographic information on architectural, planning and environmental issues in Ireland. Irish source material is rarely included in national or European bibliographies or databases. In particular, reports and other items of "grey literature" are hard to trace. The databse provides access to books, journal and newspaper articles, reports, local plans, conservation and environmental impact studies and theses.