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Chris Clarke MRTPI (Rtd): memories of Planning Aid

Chris Clarke 2012I still have a few papers from those early days, from which I see that it was in the Autumn of 1971 that Bernard Evans wrote a paper entitled "Social Responsibility and the Planner: some practical implications" for the Junior Section Committee of the then South East of England Branch. I believe that a version of the paper later appeared in the RTPI Journal. The paper included a proposal for the establishment of "Planning Advice Centres" and the provision of "advice and assistance to individuals and groups".

These ideas were further developed during 1972, when Bernard proposed "the compilation and circulation of a list of planners willing to provide planning aid". In the autumn of 1972 a number of joint working parties on Planning and Community Work were set up by the RTPI and the Association of Community Workers, and it became clear that roughly similar initiatives were emerging in various parts of the country. The Junior Section organised a meeting which was addressed by Jim Amos, Graham Lomas and others, and the TCPA advertised for a Planning Aid Officer (a post filled by David Lock).

In 1972-3 the RTPI Professional Activities Committee recommended "No Action" on Planning Aid, but Jim Amos (RTPI President) ensured that the Council did not go along with this view, and the PA Committee then set up a "drafting sub-committee" comprising myself and Hugh Roper, to consider amendments to the Code of Conduct. This led to the formation of a Planning Aid Working Party comprising myself, Gary Capner, Harry Gardiner and David Lock, which published the RTPI Discussion Paper on Planning Aid in 1974. The paper included a fair amount of discussion of the then RTPI Code of Professional Conduct, and the effects of the terms of employment of local government staff, which could have been interpreted to ban their engagement in planning aid.

Looking back on that period I am still proud of our achievements

All sorts of other people were involved in discussions, including John Palmer, Richard Pepler, Philip Rathbone, a South Wales group led by Richard Essex and Ian Horsburgh, and others. Looking back on that period I am still proud of our achievements. It says something for the RTPI in those days that senior figures were prepared to take notice of the "young planners" of the day - I was aged 25 in 1971!