RTPI Presidential team report July 2020
July continued much as June ended, with another busy month for the RTPI Presidential team as you will see from this report. My thanks to everyone for making July such a memorable month.
Between 29 June and 3 July 2020 over 3000 planners from across the UK and beyond tuned into the Royal Town Planning Institute's alternative Planning Convention - The Planner Live Online: Planning For Post Pandemic Recovery - which explored our profession’s vital role in shaping a post COVID-19 future. In addition, over 4000 viewed the discussions on our You Tube channel. You can view the playlist here.
As the Institute’s first ‘digital convention’, it was an outstanding success. Accessible to all and free of charge it was truly inclusive, with virtual attendance levels reflecting the importance that planners and the planning profession place on their role as leaders of a greener, place-based recovery.
At the start of Planner Live I launched our campaign #PlanTheWorldWeNeed which calls on governments across the UK and Ireland to capitalise on the expertise of planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery from the pandemic. Work on this campaign will continue apace over the coming months.
If you missed out on any sessions, then catch up on our YouTube channel and join us in keeping the debate alive on social media.
Volunteers matter. They add real value to organisations and wider society. Nearly 1 in 10 members of the Royal Town Planning Institute volunteer their time to support the Institute and in the case of Planning Aid England, they directly deliver services to the public. In recognition of the importance of our volunteers the RTPI launched its first-ever Volunteering Strategy - Investing in Volunteers: Collaboration for a Sustainable Future.
Building on the collective sense of community and shared willingness to contribute to the success of the RTPI, the Strategy covers the range of opportunities on offer, seeks to ensure that every volunteer has a positive experience, their contributions are recognised, achievements are celebrated and the impact they have is valued, whilst also inspiring more members to get involved.
Joining me for the launch of the Volunteer Strategy were RTPI volunteers Ryan Walker MRTPI Walker (RTPI Northern Ireland Young Planners Committee Chair), Kim Cooper (RTPI North West Chair) and Chris Jesson MRTPI Jesson (RTPI East Midlands Chair).
A recording of our conversation is available below:
Boston Barrier Project and partnership working by Boston Borough Council.
On 10 July, as part of the East Midlands virtual visit, I joined a webinar chaired by Chris Jesson MRTPI, Chair of the East Midlands region, looking at the Boston Barrier Project and partnership working by Boston Borough Council.
My 'blog' on this visit can be found here along with the YouTube video of the webinar. There are many lessons for the profession emerging from the webinar and I am sure you find both the blog and webinar thought provoking and of interest.
Thank you to all involved in organising this visit, especially RTPI East Midlands, Chris Jesson MRTPI, Adam Robinson from the Environment Agency and Mike Gildersleeves from Boston Borough Council.
Launched in 1948 in the same sitting of Parliament as the NHS and with the aim of rewarding better municipal post-war rebuilding, the Housing Design Awards were opened up to market sale homes in 1960 by Harold Macmillan and are now promoted by all 5 major professional institutions – Royal Town Planning Institute, RICS, RIBA, Landscape Institute UK, and Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).
The 2020 Design For Homes Awards were presented in an online ceremony, excellently hosted by Gareth Capner, spread across 4 days from 13 – 16 July. On behalf of the RTPI, I was delighted to present the Starter Homes Award. This award went to Inholm, Northstowe Phase 2A, a new neighbourhood of 406 homes that sets pioneering townscape design principles for the wider Northstowe Town.
Huge congratulations to all involved in this inspiring project, to Gareth Capner, David Birkbeck and all the judges for their time and work - the 2020 winners are truly exceptional and showcase the very best in Housing Design.
View the 2020 shortlisted schemes and winners here.
On 1 July the Presidential team joined an online webinar with the Commonwealth Association of Planners.
The focus of the event was on Young People and their views on a post COVID 19 world. One of the speakers was the inspirational Youth Major for Bristol – Alice Towler. who is one of 2 elected Young Mayors who work along side Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol.
Alice talked about the ‘Belonging Strategy’ which links to the City Plan and consultation resources to enable the voices of young people to be heard. She noted that young people have different ways of thinking, bringing added value to the table. To secure their views different ways of engaging were required, for example short videos, short surveys etc.
At a time when planners across the world are looking for answers and solutions to complex professional and built environment issues, Pete Ahmad, Manager for Metropolitan Spatial Planning City of Cape Town has been sharing best practice through his Talking Transformation Podcasts.
The podcasts are open conversations addressing contemporary city building and spatial transformation issues in South Africa and beyond, covering a wide range of subjects of interest and relevance to planners across the world.
As Royal Town Planning Institute President 2020 I was delighted to participate in Talking Transformation, sharing the RTPI’s #PlantheWorldWeNeed campaign which, although focused on the UK and Ireland, has a global resonance with calls for governments to capitalise on the expertise of the planners to achieve a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive recovery from COVID-19 being echoed across the world.
Exploring the opportunities for digital engagement with communities and what we have learned through our experiences of COVID-19, was the focus of a recent CPD webinar put together by RTPI South East.
I was delighted to be invited to participate in this webinar which looked at practical tools for virtual co-designing and engagement, with 'lessons learned' on what works, what doesn't work and areas for further innovation. The session started with a live demonstration of interactive polling and was followed by presentations on digital tools for engagement, recent research on effective engagement methods and how to make the most of a public Zoom meeting on design detail for a planning application.
Chaired by Troy Hayes, the other speakers were Lauren Ielden, Angela Koch and Jennifer Manuel.
This event forms part of RTPI Online Events 2020 and you can watch it below:
Huge thank you to Paul G Tucker QC, Mary Cook, Sasha White QC, Charles Banner QC and Christopher Young QC for their amazing online series of #HWGPNFY which is enjoyed across the profession and beyond - it is a ‘must watch’ every Thursday.
Episode 13 was very special for me as a guest on the show. After a bit of banter about Birmingham and which is the better football team (for the avoidance of doubt it is Birmingham City FC – although the League position may not reflect this) the debate focused on the importance and value of community engagement, something which is not only my passion and specialist area of expertise, but also a key part of my Royal Town Planning Institute Presidency.
We need to see early, meaningful and inclusive engagement, with approaches that enable diverse groups to get involved, appreciate what we are consulting on, why and respond with informed views. Digital technology is a real opportunity to achieve this. The importance of ensuring diverse voices are heard is essential if we are to ensure healthy, socially inclusive, economically and environmentally sustainable places and spaces for those alive today and for all those that follow us. Good engagement is at the heart of the RTPI campaign #PlanTheWorldWeNeed.
Judging took place during July for the RTPI. All three members of the Presidential team joined judging panels. It was an exciting and inspiring process. Watch out for the announcement of the shortlists for the various categories in mid August.
On a wonderfully warm day in July, I was privileged to meet with 24 of UWE’s planning students for a ‘Meet the President’ event.
Having talked about my own career in planning, what inspires and motivates me, I was ‘put on the spot’ by the students. Judging by the calibre of the thought provoking and informed questioning from the UWE students, the future of planning is looking very bright.
Thank you all so much for a great session.
Community Engagement in Wales – RTPI Cymru and the Royal Society of Architects in Wales Partnership event
As a part of my virtual Presidential tour, I was delighted to be invited to join a an event held on 23 July by the Royal Town Planning Institute Cymru and Royal Society of Architects in Wales partnership (which aims to create a space for dialogue between planners and architects) which focused on community engagement in Wales.
The session was expertly chaired by Simon Power RTPI Cymru. Roisin Willmott (RTPI Director of Wales) provided a context for community involvement in planning in Wales with panellists Hannah Dineen, Grasshopper Communications), James Davies (Planning Aid Wales), Tim Fry (Loyn and Co) and Dan Benham / Ali Abdi (Grangetown pavilion) speaking with passion and pride about the work they had been undertaking with communities. Ryan Stuckey (Royal society of Architects in Wales) and wrapped up the event with our thoughts and reflections.
It was clear from the discussion that everyone agreed that good engagement adds value to projects, informs decisions and brings a sense of ‘ownership’ to those communities who have engaged in shaping a scheme.
RTPI South West Young Planners
Planning’s Got Talent. If my ‘virtual visit’ to the Royal Town Planning Institute South West Young Planners is anything to go by, then there is no doubt that the future of planning is in safe hands.
Due to the size of the region there are a number of Young Planner Groups, who organise events, ranging from CPD sessions and themed seminars to study tours, networking sessions and socials. They also host a Presidential ‘visit’.
My 2020 visit focused on four aspects of planning in a post COVID-19 world: the future of home / digital working and what this means for planning, the future of purpose built student accommodation in the post COVID era, public houses and planning and changing perspectives on open space.
The presentations and discussions were thought provoking, inspiring and revealing – I cannot recommend enough that you watch the recording of this visit.
Our RTPI apprentices are key to the future of the profession. The apprenticeship scheme provides a route into planning for many who would not otherwise have been able to fulfil their ambitions and in doing so widens the diversity of our profession.
On 28 July I was delighted to join the Suffolk Growth Partnership Town Planning Technical Support Apprentices’ year end presentations.
Madison Rodwell and Charlie Coe gave the winning presentation on the Lowestoft Flood Protection Scheme. Also delivering super presentations were Rebekah Chishaya and Adam Lockwood who spoke about a major housing scheme and Alex Breadman, Toby Braddish and James Morriss who shared views on an educational development.
Reflecting on their year as apprentices it was clear that they all felt they had developed professionally and as people, and that they had enjoyed it enormously. They bring great positivity and talent to the profession, and clearly value the support they received from mentors, tutors, employers and each other.
A huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of the Town Planning Technical Support Apprenticeship scheme.
#Building Brum is the one of the biggest cross institute built environment networking events and on 27 July 2020 professionals from across the Midlands came together to join a discussion on the role of Coventry City of Culture 2021 and Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 as catalysts to further develop the two cities and leave a lasting legacy.
Chaired by Luke Hillson (Barton Willmore) I was delighted to be invited to be a panellist alongside Jacob Bonehill (RPS Group), Laura McMillan (Coventry UK City of Culture 2021), Simon Delahunty-Forrest (Birmingham City Council) and Nicola Turner MBE (Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022).
There was a strong consensus that both cities needed to ‘bang the drum harder’ to raise their profile and that these events were a great way to do this. Early inclusive community engagement, people, place-making, culture and quality were recurring themes along with a call for the keys of the city of Birmingham to be given to Black Sabbath.
You can find the video of the full discussion here: https://vimeo.com/studio50two
In addition to watching the event, soon to be uploaded on You Tube, it is worth reading Luke Hillson's blog – sporting and cultural events turn good public spaces into great places