Regional spatial planning in Northern Ireland is directly linked to the transition from conflict to peace, as identified in the Belfast Agreement of 1998. Political consensus, a rare commodity, was secured in the Northern Ireland Assembly for a regional development strategy (RDS), the first spatial planning document of its kind in the UK. This paper explores the deployment of collaborative planning in creating the RDS. Given Northern Ireland's divided socio-political context, the paper seeks to ascertain the influence on meaningful policy debate and strategy-making arising from the collaborative planning approach. The paper investigates the application of collaborative planning measures in Northern Ireland through an analysis of spatial policy relating to economic development. Evidence presented in this paper suggests that socio-political cohesion was given primacy above potentially contentious physical growth patterns necessary for regional economic development, the result of an inability by institutions to grapple with troublesome issues.