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RTPI Cymru selects national director to focus on policy

27 July 2007

The RTPI has charged its new director for Wales with finding a distinctive approach, writes Debbie Sorkin

Roisin Willmott has been appointed national director of RTPI Cymru and takes up the position in September. This new post reflects that planning is one of the functions devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government, strengthened by the Government of Wales Act 2007. As Welsh national policy and its system for local policy development is now markedly different to England's, the RTPI is changing its approach in Wales. Willmott, currently senior consultant in the Cardiff office of ECOTEC Research & Consulting, has played a leading part in the quinquennial review of the Welsh planning research programme and more recently the review of national planning policy development processes. She also has experience of working in local government and education.

She comments: \"It is important to reflect the distinctiveness of Welsh policy and practice in the services that the RTPI offers to members and imperative to work across all fields in Wales. Co-operation with many organisations, not least the Welsh Assembly Government and institutions such as Planning Aid Wales, will be central to the role.\"

Willmott aims to involve more members and associates in driving forward RTPI Cymru's agenda by engaging them in debate. \"It is important to raise the profile of planning as a profession, not just a job,\" she argues. \"We should also raise awareness elsewhere of what is happening in planning west of Offa's Dyke.\" She believes that sharing research and experience of different practices can benefit the entire UK.

Willmott has a masters degree in urban planning from Oxford Brookes University and a PhD from Cardiff University on the relationships and roles of the those involved in taking forward European structural fund programmes in Wales. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and running and is trying to master skiing. Until now, Rebecca Philips and Owain Wyn have carried out RTPI Cymru's policy work on a part-time basis. Willmott notes: \"Their work together with the work of the branch has set in place a strong platform for the position of director.\"

With delegated powers, RTPI Cymru handles the institute's affairs in Wales via a management board. The board, supported by a new policy and research forum, is responsible for implementing RTPI strategies on planning policy, research and practice in Wales and supporting members in professional activities.

Debbie Sorkin is the RTPI's director of programmes and services.