SAVE THE DATE - 5 JULY 2016
Over 450 attended this year's event on the theme 'The new politics for planning' in our new venue, the very modern 155 Broadgate in London.
Planning minister Brandon Lewis spoke to the convention via video-link. "Hundreds of thousands of homes were built over the last parliament," said Lewis. "House building is increasing and first time buyers are now back to almost record levels. That's good news, but we still have much work to do. We cannot afford to sit and rest on our laurels. We need to build more homes. We need to make those homes are well built, well designed, well laid out, well planned for."
Eugénie Birch, chair of the World Urban Campaign (pictured, far right), spoke of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 11 – 'to make cities and human settlements safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable.' Principles include affordable housing, sustainable transport, preserving cultural and natural heritage reducing environmental impact of cities.
The hardest aim to get the world's diplomats to understand? The importance of planning. "They just don't understand it," she says. "We have a big job in front of us to get out of our jargon and get into everyday language. We've got to stop talking to ourselves we've got to start talking to the world ad be persuasive about the important of planning."
Birmingham City Council's director of planning and regeneration, Waheed Nazir, spoke on the topic of leadership in planning and his own approach. In terms of planning for a growing population and supply of housing, he told convention of how, having used up all the available brownfield land, his department has had to look at green belt to the north of the city. Birmingham is going for a sizeable urban extension with schools, surgeries - everything a community needs. "Why do communities object to growth? It's because you're putting pressure on infrastructure."
Birmingham itself, said Nazir (pictured far right being interviewed), is becoming a housing developer, with some 1,000 completions so far. When asked about managing relationships with politicians, Nazir described the example of a half day seminar with council members during which the city's planning team led them through the rationale for expanding local schools (rapid population growth that would lead to many children in the city with no school place). "Allowing members to engage early on is critical. It's too easy for planners to hide behind politicians and say 'They are the reason we can't have growth'.
Further sessions from barrister Nathalie Lieven, Amey's Dr. Rick Robinson and NHS England's Sir Malcolm Grant, rounded off as productive morning of stimulating sessions. The RTPI Planning Convention continues this afternoon.
View photos on Flickr