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Janet Brand MRTPI (Rtd): memories of Planning Aid

I became an Associate member of the TPI in Oct 1969 (it was not 'Royal' then), when I was a Planning Assistant at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Shortly after I became a Senior Planning Assistant at the City of London, and then in 1971, I became a Senior Lecturer at South Bank Polytechnic.

I was already involved in TPI committees by 1969 and was an office bearer, sometime convener, of the Junior Section of the then South East Branch of the RTPI [which at that time included London]. I recall RTPI members Patsy Healey (now Emeritus Professor of Town and Country Planning at Newcastle University), Chris Clarke [now in Newcastle] and Heather Kerswell [now in Guildford] were also involved.

My strongest memory of the early days of Planning Aid in the late 1960s is my emotional reaction to the fact that the then TPI Code of Conduct prohibited TPI members from offering their services free of charge. I found this an affront to my liberty to use my free time as I wished, and for others too, and decided to take action.

In the late 1960s / early 1970s I was involved in critical discussions at the RTPI over the need to change the RTPI Code of Conduct. That was a very critical first action that had to be taken before Planning Aid could be set up. It did take lots of discussion; there was so much opposition to the whole notion.

As I recall final approval to alteration of RTPI Code of Conduct was by the Privy Council: you can imagine the bureaucracy to be navigated through – endless boring meetings, papers to read and respond to... You had to be inspired to keep at it, and I, and others, were. It did require stamina, perseverance and sometimes intrigue to keep at it. We lobbied the RTPI Presidents and they too played their role. 

At end of 1973 I moved to Scotland, becoming an academic in Urban and Regional Planning at Strathclyde University, until my department closed and I retired in 2005.

On my arrival in Scotland in 1973, I continued working with vigour on issues of Planning Aid through the RTPI Scottish Branch Executive committee, as I think it was then called. I have a hard copy of a report, for which I wrote the forward – I was then Senior Vice-Chairman, Scottish Branch of the RTPI – called "Planning Aid, A Report on Scottish Experience", Research Report 7, The Planning Exchange, by John Ferrier, Fiona Hutchinson and Robina Johnson, 1978. This reports on the activity from 1975 of the establishment of Scottish Planning Aid, and I know I was involved with the establishment of that too.

I wish Planning Aid all the best for its future.

Janet Brand [also known as Janet Lamb], Sept. 2013