The story of the making and eventual implementation of a city and regional plan for the Londonderry area makes fascinating reading. Published in 1968, just before the outbreak of the recent 'troubles', it became the basis for subsequent plans implemented by officials of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and dedicated community leaders. Their often heroic commitment to the future of the city and its environs transcends even the worst days of civil strife. The author was one of a small team that made the plan and he places it in context, explains how it came to be made and records the difficulties of planners working in the political circumstances that prevailed. Against the background of the general social, economic and physical conditions of the city and region, he focuses on the housing crisis before elaborating on the making of the plan in particular. Professor McSheffrey stresses that although the story may be of interest to planners and development professionals, it is not an academic study of the planning process. He hopes it will introduce general readers to the importance of planning and the complex social and ethical issues inherent in the process. Planning Derry for example, involved value judgements concerning people and political and religious views in Northern Ireland at the time, but he has tried to be objective and avoid bias or the espousal of a particular political viewpoint. The book is, above all, about the dedication of individuals who believed their planning efforts could make a difference and provide better living conditions and choices for the people of the area. McSheffrey concludes on an optimistic note concerning the future place of Derry in Ireland. As the peace process unfolds, he hopes that perhaps the people of Derry, as they continue to develop and rebuild their city, might become a symbol of liberation from the past and of expectations of a peaceful and prosperous future for all Irish people.
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