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Planners are catalysts for change, says RTPI President

21 June 2017

The President of the RTPI used his speech at the Institute's annual conference today to urge town planners to act as “catalysts for change” to bring about a better, fairer society.

“Far from being the enemies of enterprise… we are and must continue to be the enemies of uncertainty and champions of delivery in changing times.

Stephen Wilkinson said:

“It is interesting that the election campaign was more about our public services than about Brexit, and young people were motivated to vote in higher numbers out of concern about their futures. Brexit showed us what a divided country we are and last month’s election shows that, a year on, we still are.”

But he emphasised:

“During the last year since the vote on Brexit, we have seen a change in the debate. It is no longer about blaming the planning system as a barrier to growth.

“The new debate is around how we can secure more housing, infrastructure, industrial strategies, localism, social equity, investment, air quality, supporting the vulnerable, inclusiveness, and quality of life. Our speakers today will highlight a great many of the issues and solutions we as a profession can deliver.

“In this way, the debate has come back into our territory and our profession is ready for it.”

Mr Wilkinson showed how planners across the country are already bringing about much needed changes to solve the housing crisis and improve the lives of communities still left behind by the economic recovery.

More positive perception of planning

The fact the Government’s Housing White Paper has finally acknowledged the wide range of factors that need to be addressed – many of which the RTPI has been campaigning to put on the Government’s agenda – is a clear sign that planning is now more positively perceived politically, he told the audience.

He went on to say that the immense scale of challenges facing the world also means that planning and planners are high on the global agenda. “These are global challenges and uniquely they demand the response of planners as a global profession,” he said. 

"Planners are the catalysts for a better society"

Along with the RTPI’s work, he urged planners “to continue to seize the agenda”:

“Far from being the enemies of enterprise… we are and must continue to be the enemies of uncertainty and champions of delivery in changing times.

“We must provide a roadmap to a better future – just as we have done in the past.

“We are the catalysts for a better society, a better world – so let’s get on with delivering it!”