RTPI President Janet Askew visited the West Midlands last week. In a varied trip hosted by RTPI West Midlands, she took in a tour of Telford, one of Britain’s fastest growing towns, spoke to planning students at Birmingham University, and attended a ‘Meet the President’ event hosted by the region’s young planners. Janet also found time to be briefed by the organisers of a neighbourhood plan in Balsall Heath, who explained on a walkabout the big plans the community has for the future of the area.
Telford & Wrekin Council welcomed Janet (left) to show her some if its high profile regeneration developments, including Southwater, which is a part of a £200m, five-year strategy to regenerate Telford Shopping Centre, was given planning consent in 2013.
Janet said: “Telford is gaining a national reputation for imaginative planning in one of the fastest-growing towns in the UK, so I wanted to see for myself what is taking place on the ground. I was very impressed with the enormous work undertaken by the council and the planning department and by the scope of the ambition. Telford is an impressive example of a new town which has a determined approach to regeneration. The new extension to the town centre and the refurbished park have been very well done”.
Janet also met RTPI members at a question and answer session at the council’s head offices before attending an evening reception in Birmingham where she met many RTPI young planners (pictured, left).
A highlight of the trip, as a leading academic herself, was accepting an invitation to speak to planning students at the University of Birmingham (left), an event organised by Dr Mike Beazley, from the Geography Department. The focus of her lecture was on international planning and outreach.
Watch Janet's inaugural speech on Youtube here
Read her inaugural speech in full here
Janet has worked in the public and private sectors in planning and latterly in academia. She currently teaches planning at the University of the West of England, (UWE) Bristol, and her research interests include planning law and regulatory regimes.