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25,000 planners can’t be wrong

31 January 2018 Author: John Acres

There can be few more satisfying tasks in one’s career than to represent your fellow professionals as President of the Royal Town Planning Institute and I am honoured and delighted to take on the role.

In my Inaugural Speech in London last week, I spoke of my commitment to lifelong learning, using my own career as a metaphor for the journey which most planners take in building knowledge, developing skills and gaining experience over a lifetime.  I am fortunate to have worked in both the public, private and voluntary sectors and I can honestly say that planning continues to interest and inspire me, irrespective of the routine pressures, tensions and sometimes traumas which are part of the everyday job.  We should all be proud of our profession.

I committed myself in my speech to working with the RTPI staff in raising the profile of the profession, not just with planners and politicians but in the wider court of public opinion and I want all planners to share my passion for planning. 

In that speech, I promised to produce a regular blog (or diary) during my year as President, to keep you up to date not just with what I am doing but also what I am thinking as your ambassador for the profession. So, this is the first of my series of ‘President’s Post’.

My very first task as President was to deliver a short video presentation to announce our 25,000th member of the RTPI – who is Holly Hobbs from Powys County Council in mid Wales.  I would like to congratulate Holly and also all the other new members of the RTPI. This is a huge landmark for the Institute and I am looking forward to meeting Holly who has been invited to attend the Welsh Planning Conference at Llandudno in early March.

My second engagement, later the same day, was to officiate at the London Planning Awards (supported by the RTPI) in the impressive Banqueting House in Whitehall designed by Inigo Jones in 1622. It was the scene where 27 years later, King Charles 1 was beheaded on a scaffold just outside.  No such drama this time. At a glittering occasion, the overall Mayor’s Award went to the redevelopment of Kings Cross Station. It was a popular choice within the audience. The scheme has created a breathtaking station concourse bringing new light and life into Kings Cross. It has both transformed the station, as well as acting as a catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding Kings Cross area.     

This week I will be joining a panel of judges chaired by Nick Raynsford to select a winner of the Jubilee Cup as part of our own RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence.  I have been reading through the shortlisted entries over the weekend and there are some truly impressive candidates this time.  So do book your place at the RTPI Awards on 24 May 2018 at the Barbican in London.

And next week, I shall be heading for the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, speaking at and chairing three sessions at the conference and learning more about the initiatives being adopted by other countries in tackling the global problems of urban growth and climate change. No one country has all the answers. More about that next time.

Planning encapsulates so many aspects of life which are of value to the economy, the environment and society. It has the capacity to influence social inequality, to help shape the world around us and to contribute to minimising the use of resources and combating climate change. 

I committed myself in my speech to working with the RTPI staff in raising the profile of the profession, not just with planners and politicians but in the wider court of public opinion and I want all planners to share my passion for planning. 

I look forward to serving you over the coming year.

John Acres

John Acres

John Acres MRTPI is the President of the RTPI.