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RTPI Presidential Team report August 2020

by RTPI President Sue Manns FRTPI

In most years, August would normally be a quiet month, but then 2020 could never be described as a ‘typical’ year. This is particularly true for the RTPI Presidential team as you will see from this report. My thanks to everyone for making August yet another memorable month.


Planning for the Future – White Paper 6 August 2020 – consultation closes 29 October

Changes to the current planning system – consultation closes 1 October

On 6 August, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published two important documents for consultation. The first was its White Paper Planning for the Future which sets out proposals for a reform of England's planning system, the consultation for which closes on 29 October 2020. The second document sets out ‘Changes to the current planning system’; the consultation for this closes on 1 October 2020.

On 12 August, the Presidential team joined a webinar chaired by Victoria Hills to give their initial reactions to some of the proposals contained in the White Paper.

Whatever changes the Government is set to do, it is vital that the RTPI is not sidelined and that we continue to lobby for the profession to influence the paper and legislation, through being a respected and balanced authority. In doing so, it is important that we fairly represent the views of our members; key to this is ensuring that we hear those views.

Please read the White Paper, reflect on the proposals and share your views with us by email to [email protected], to arrive by 11 September (5pm). In addition, we are currently organising a series of roundtables (one in each of the nine English regions) to discuss the White Paper proposals.


RTPI Awards for Research Planning Excellence – announcement of the shortlist

Community-led regeneration in London, UK mechanisms for capturing development value, employment land allocation practices in South Yorkshire, the impacts of high density living and the value of planning and design in promoting respiratory health are among the research projects shortlisted for the 2020 RTPI Awards for Research Excellence.

The 2020 Awards have been sponsored by Routledge Taylor & Francis Group and Idox Knowledge Exchange. They recognise and promote high quality, impactful spatial planning research carried out by Chartered members and accredited planning schools from around the world.

61 submissions were received across four award categories: Sir Peter Hall Award for Research Excellence, Early Career Researcher Award, Student Award, and the Planning Practitioner Award. 17 projects have been shortlisted.

The Presidential team played a part in the judging of the Award categories and are very much looking forward to being a part of the online Awards Ceremony on 7 September when the winning and commended entries will be announced.


Presidential Visit to the East of England – 12 August

Strategic Planning: The only way in South Essex?

One of the best things about being RTPI President is the visits undertaken during the year. This year, these visits are being done digitally, which provides a unique opportunity to share them across the profession and beyond - showcasing the best of planning.

On 12 August, I joined a webinar with Peter Geraghty MCIOB FCABE FRTPI (Director of Planning and Transport at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council), Mark Sheppard and Adrian Smith (Strategic Planning Team at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council) who spoke with passion and commitment about the work undertaken to date on the South Essex Plan.

Problems don’t end at administrative boundaries” which is why the six South Essex authorities are working together with Essex County Council to produce the South Essex Plan. Their journey to date has transformed views of strategic planning from initial hostility to positive support.

The webinar is available on the RTPI YouTube channel and is well worth watching. Many thanks to Peter Geraghty (past President of the RTPI), Mark Sheppard and Adrian Smith.


Wei Yang – planning reform at a global level – August 2020

It is fantastic to see the influence Wei Yang, RTPI President 2021, is having on planning reform at a global level. A number of suggestions Wei made to the Chief Planner of the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources have been adopted in a consultation paper - Planning Guidance for Metropolitan Areas (August 2020) including:

  • A strategic and long-term urban-rural integrated approach to consider the whole territory as one ecological entity
  • A single digital base map containing all natural, ecological, socio-economic, demographical, cultural & heritage, infrastructure, pollution, agricultural, climate change impact, and hazards information
  • An emphasis on the public service purpose of planning and strengthening public engagement
  • Urban design and place-making to be embedded in the whole plan-making process
  • Integration of a blue & green landscape framework in urban developments, bringing the beauty of nature into cities, developing distinctive local characters
  • Creating pedestrian friendly walkable neighbourhoods, and human-scale public open spaces

#PlanTheWorldWeNeed calls on governments to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive COVID19 recovery.


BAME Planners roundtable – 26 August

Planners and the planning profession should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve; but we know this currently isn’t the case, especially for our BAME members.

A RTPI BAME planners roundtable on 26 August laid bare the discrimination, overt or sub-conscious, that BAME planners face on a daily basis. The existence of a glass ceiling and the absence of BAME planners at a senior level is beyond disappointing.

Addressing diversity alone is not enough, we must also address inclusivity if things are to change. The roundtable revealed many ideas and a shared energy to drive change - change can happen if we want it to happen.

The RTPI Corporate Strategy provides the foundation for change, with an Action Plan in place and the imminent recruitment of a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Manager - the time for talking is over and there is much to be done.

A new BAME Planners Network established by Helen Fadipe, along with BAME in Property which the RTPI already supports, will provide a strong force for change and a source of support for those facing discrimination. I am looking forward to attending the BAME Planners Network meeting in September.


Welcome to Tim Crawshaw – RTPI Vice President 2021

Huge congratulations to Tim Crawshaw MRTPI, who has been elected as RTPI Vice President for 2021. Tim will become President in 2022.

Tim is a highly experienced and much respected planning practitioner and is currently the Chair of the RTPI North East Regional Management Board.

Along with current Vice President Wei Yang and Immediate Past President Ian Tant it is my great pleasure to welcome Tim to the RTPI Presidential Team. I have no doubt that as Ian sadly steps away from the team in January 2021, Tim will be a very worthy and valuable replacement.

This is an exciting and challenging time for the profession and together the Presidential Team will continue to do all in our power to get the message out to governments across the UK and Ireland that they need to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

#PlanTheWorldWeNeed raises awareness of the vital role planners have in every aspect of the recovery in order to revive the economy, tackle inequality and meet net-zero targets by 2050.


RTPI Elections 2020

Voting is now open for the RTPI elections 2020.

It was wonderful to see the diverse range of nominations received for all roles and it now falls to members to help ensure that the RTPI continues to take a leading role in addressing the complex challenges that planners face today.

Please use your vote for those who you feel will bring a mix of skills, knowledge, experience and new ways of thinking to the table, and best represent you. In England, Scotland and Wales planning and planning systems are top of the agenda as never before - your voice matters now more than ever.

The roles up for election in 2020 are:

- Board Chair and 2 Chartered Trustees (elected by General Assembly members)
- General Assembly members (14 Chartered and 3 Student / Licentiate members)
- Scottish Executive Committee (3 Corporate members and Junior Vice Convenor)
- South West Regional Management Board (GA regional representative and Junior Vice Chair)

Look out for a letter or email from election provider Mi-Voice and cast your vote by 5pm on 23 September. There’s more information on the RTPI website.