The inaugural lecture was given by Patsy Healey, Professor Emeritus at Newcastle University's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, and one of planning leading thinkers. Speaking on "Progressive Localism, civic capacity and the role of planning", she gave a rigorous and thought-provoking view on how localism can work in action and what the role of planning and planners should be.
Key points included:
- Localism is a good thing and the right way to go in an over-centralised country like England; however
- If localism is to work it cannot be imposed from the top, over-'organised' from the bottom or over-restricted by rules and bureaucracy - successful localism is organic and reflects the ever-changing perspectives, priorities and alliances of local communities.
- Localism and the way people operate within their place is complex and requires sensitivity and subtlety if it is to be managed successfully - perhaps particularly in cities
- A 'strategic' framework or plan is essential to provide the framework within which localism operates; but that plan will, over time, be informed and shaped by activism at local level if people are encouraged to engage.
Chaired by Sir Peter Hall, the Q&A session was lively, exploring questions from a wide range of attendees. This event was the first of a series of RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield annual lectures, generously supported by Dalia Lichfield and hosted by UCL.