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Presidential visit to the South East

There is no better time to visit Kent - 'The Garden of England' than a sunny autumn day for the RTPI Presidential Visit to the South East. It's not only beautiful, but also fruity and sweet.

The visit to A.C. Goatham and Son Ltd - one of the largest British fruit growers, was very special. It's amazing to learn how scientifically based the fruit growing industry is and how vital proactive rural planning is to their sustainable business development. Rural planning plays a significant role in our net zero, natural capital gain and food security agenda. The RTPI is going to carry out a Rural Planning Research. I hope the Southeast Region can participate and contribute to the research proactively to offer your expertise.

Image shows left to right Simon Taylor (RTPI SE Chair and DLUHC), Ross Goatham (AC Goatham & Son), Wei Yang, Tom Ogden (Bloomfields), Susan Millington and Molly How (Barton Willmore)


I was also delighted to visit Ashford Borough Council in the afternoon to meet the planning team led by Simon Cole, Head of Planning & Development and understand their current opportunities and challenges. Ashford town centre is an exemplary long-term public realm improvement and urban regeneration project. I have long wanted to visit. Glad I had the opportunity to have a tour guided by the remarkable planning team behind the success.

Simon Cole added: “We all thought the visit went very well and we were pleased that the examples of the work we are involved in were of such interest to Wei and other colleagues on the trip. As is always the case, it’s hard to condense such a huge amount into such a small amount of time but it was good to get the positive feedback and we were very pleased to welcome everyone. Naturally, we’d happy to keep RTPI colleagues up to date on progress on some of the key matters especially the nutrient neutrality issue which we know is affecting development in an ever greater number of locations across the country.”

Image shows left to right Graham Wilson (Savills), Simon Taylor (RTPI SE Chair and DLUHC),  Simon Cole (Ashford BC), Tom Ogden (Bloomfields), Wei Yang, Roland Mill (Ashford BC), Jeffrey Ng (Homes England), Laura Eacott (Savills), Gary Mickelborough (Bloomfields)

It was great to meet RTPI Young Planners co-chaired by Molly How and Graham Wilson in the Region as well. It’s lovely to meet our ambitious young planners and apprenticeship students in person.

With the Kent Young Planners at the Curious Brewery Ashford

I would like to express my great appreciation to Simon Taylor, Chair of the Region, and Susan Millington, Regional Coordinator, and everyone helped organised and hosted my visit. A special thank you to Ross Goatham, Thomas Ogden, Dan Carter and Roland Mills.

Thomas added: "It was lovely to meet our RTPI president, but it was an absolute privilege to have her take such an active interest in rural planning matters and to take time to understand a modern farming business in the south east. The planning system needs to recognise the needs of rural businesses before in can even begin to implement change and this was a great starting place.  Some extremely useful discussions were had and we look forward to the next steps being put in place by Wei and her team”.

It was lovely to meet Tsz Lok (Jeffrey) Ng, Tony Chadwick, Beth Watts, Daniel Page, Gary Mickelborough, Laura Eacott, Rebecca Potter, Laura O'Brien, Sophie Levy, Andreia Rocha Costa Mosdell during the visit.