Politicians speaking at the RTPI and Planning Portal Labour Party Conference fringe event are optimistic about the future of the profession despite the current problems, such as the impact of cuts, constant changes to the system, and eroding public confidence in planning.
Speakers talked about a range of issues holding back the profession - from the lack of fee flexibility through to the way national policies are created in isolation with poor consultation – but also expressed genuine passion about the role planning could play in making a better, fairer society.
The politicians agreed more needed to be done to empower planners, who have the skills necessary to deliver vibrant communities and prosperous places across the UK. They all understood that the system requires better resourcing and a more positive approach to the profession. Roberta Blackman Woods was particularly considered about how the negativity about the profession may deter young people from entering it, worsening the skills crisis.
Hosted by Helen Hayes, planner turned MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, Creating a prosperous fairer future - planning's role brought together:
- Clive Betts, Select Committee for Communities and Local Government Chair, MP for Sheffield South East
- Roberta Blackman-Woods, MP for City of Durham, Former Planning Minister
- Alice Bennett, Mayoral Lead for Heritage, Liverpool Councillor for Woolton,
- Sarah Chilcott, Managing Director, Planning Portal
- Stephen Wilkinson, Vice President, RTPI
RTPI Vice President Stephen Wilkinson told delegates that "planning is the art of the possible" and went on to say:
"It was good to hear politicians share their vision for what planning could achieve. We've got a lot of work ahead of us if we are to deliver a fairer, more prosperous future but we can't do it without their support and shared vision. Our party conference event brought together a range of stakeholders to debate how we champion the case for positive planning."
The fringe event was attended by built environment professionals, conference delegates, local councillors and RTPI members. It was kindly sponsored by Planning Portal.
The RTPI runs fringe events at the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences. They offer the Institute an opportunity to maintain its high profile with politicians and stakeholders and discuss policy with politicians away from Westminster.
Register for free: A country that works for everyone - planning's role (4 October)
Politicians: Politicians in Planning Annual Conference (19 November)
Read: RTPI report stresses value of planners in times of uncertainty
Read: Why we need politicians to share our vision for planning