With the approval of a City Council committee, a charter change in Philadelphia to create a city planning department has cleared a hurdle.

If approved by the full Council and then voters, the change would establish a cabinet-level position to oversee the city's planning, zoning, licensing, inspection and housing functions.

Council President Darrell Clarke said it's not easy to restructure government but this time it has been a cooperative process.

"It gave us the ability to understand that this is going to be a working document, if, in fact, we get it enacted with the full participation of everyone in the city of Philadelphia," Clarke said.

The overhaul will benefit the city, said Beth McConnell of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.

"We believe it can help create stronger coordination. communication and planning between various local public agencies that deal with housing and community development," she said.