We will shortly be publishing a full report on the centenary events, highlighting the key issues that were discussed in the debates.
Comments from Regional Chair Andrew Pritchard
During November and December I undertook an early morning tour of some of our most respected universities for the East Midlands RTPI Centenary Breakfast Debates. Each event had a different focus and pulled together a diverse mix of planners, academics, architects, engineers, surveyors and politicians – particularly important given the proximity of the General Election.
We started off at Nottingham Trent University with RTPI president Cath Ranson, Mark Spencer MP (Con) and a number of council leaders talking about a the future of Nottingham as core city.
Next stop was the University of Northampton's Collaborative Centre for the Built Environment with Cllr Jim Harker (Conservative leader of Northamptonshire County Council) and Sally Keeble (Labour PPC for Northampton North and former DCLG Minister) looking at the challenges of delivering major strategic growth.
At the University of Derby we debated manufacturing jobs for the future with Pauline Latham MP (Con) and Cllr Lucy Care (Lib Dem PPC for Derby North).
The RTPI's Chief Executive Trudi Elliot joined us at the University of Lincoln with Karl McCartney MP (Con) and the Labour Leader of Lincoln City Council, Cllr Rick Metcalfe, to consider the impacts of demographic and climate change.
Finally at Loughborough University, local MP and Secretary of State for Education the Right Honourable Nicky Morgan MP and Labour's Cllr Max Hunt debated urban and rural regeneration – informed by some 'hot off the press' academic research on the demographic impact of development in Leicestershire since 2001.
Taking all the events together, a number of issues struck me.
Firstly, although we do not have an RTPI recognised planning school in the East Midlands (yet!), we do have a breadth and depth of academic expertise across the East Midlands which the profession could make better use of and secondly the 'elephant in the room' at all the debates was land value capture – how can we find a practical and politically acceptable way of securing a greater proportion of the un-earned financial uplift resulting from the grant of planning permission to deliver the homes and jobs that everyone agrees are needed?
And finally, I was genuinely impressed by the quality of the debates and the extent to which politicians from all parties were prepared to engage with some very challenging questions. As Nicky Morgan was kind enough to observe: 'I thought it was a remarkably informative and helpful session – and those are not usually words I use in the context of a discussion on planning!' It would be great to think that this positive approach could be taken into a council chamber near you and onto the floor of the House Commons.
I would like to extend my thanks to all those who attended and participated in the debates and in particular to my colleague Lois Dale who handled all the practical arrangements - and who had to get up even earlier than me!
Here's to the next Century of the RTPI!