There was an international flavour to the RTPI’s General Assembly held in London’s Mayfair on the 18th June. Speakers included Paul Farmer, Chief Executive, American Planning Association (APA) and Dr Wei Yang of Wei Yang and Partners. Wei Yang and Partners recently saw its submission ‘New Garden Cities’ shortlisted for the Wolfson Economics Prize 2014. The Institute also launched its new illustrated booklet ‘The Worldwide Value of Planning’. The booklet which has been produced in the RTPI’s centenary year looks at some of the major challenges the world is facing and explains how planning can play a vital role in addressing those issues.
Paul Farmer from the APA was the first presentation of the day. He outlined the structure of the American Planning Association and identified some of the main challenges facing planners in the US. Paul also re-presented the APA’s National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Landmark to commemorate the RTPI’s 100 years of planning. It was originally presented at the APA’s national convention in April, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Wei Yang gave an interesting presentation about exporting UK planning expertise to China. She explained how UK planning expertise and the UK’s planning legacy had a lot to offer China and told the audience how China was experiencing similar problems to the UK in the early 20th century. Dr. Yang commented there was a great need for Chinese planning to address social issues, with policy focusing on small and medium sized cities.
Other speakers included Alison Wright, RTPI Young Planner of the Year 2013 who spoke about planning conflict in Oxford, sparking a spirited Q&A session. The final speaker of the day was Professor Heather Campbell from the University of Sheffield and Senior Editor of ‘Planning Theory and Practice’ who gave an overview on the journal. During her presentation Professor Campbell called for more RTPI members to get involved in the journal; by providing reviews and suggesting topics and lead authors for the journals interface section.
The Assembly was also addressed by the RTPI’s Chair of the Board, Andrew Taylor and Dr. Michael Harris, Deputy Head of Policy and Research, RTPI. Andrew Taylor reported on recent work carried out by the Board of Trustees, while Dr. Harris launched the ‘The Worldwide Value of Planning’ and spoke about the international need for planning. He gave examples from a favela in Rio de Janiero, Lagos, and the West Antarctic ice shelf.
The General Assembly also saw the presentation of a lifetime Honorary Membership to Judith Eversley by Dr. Peter Geraghty, the RTPI’s Immediate Past President. The award was for Judith’s work as a stalwart part of the Institute and her pivotal role in relationships with other planning institutes, organisations and international networks, enabling planning to take its place on the world stage. Judith is leaving the RTPI after 22 years as its International Affairs Officer.
The RTPI’s General Assembly is the debating chamber of the Institute, meeting three times a year, normally in London. Meetings of the General Assembly are chaired by the President and all members of the Institute are entitled to attend.