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Victoria Hills: Driving change at MIPIM and beyond

Planning goes global

This year’s MIPIM the world's leading real estate exhibition, conference and networking event was all about ‘Driving Urban Change’. It’s a topic that has planning at its centre, from its benefits to its problems, and its complexities.

It was an opportunity for the RTPI to ensure that planning featured prominently at the heart of the conference. Between immediate Past President Wei Yang and myself, we made sure to pack in over 30 meetings with council leaders, chief executives, ministers, property investors and developers, RTPI members, built environment professionals, and thought leaders, as well as visiting some of the international city and country exhibitions.

Together, we estimate that we met more decision-makers across the UK in 72 hours than we could have managed in a year without the conference, including a meeting with Housing Minister Stuart Andrew to keep the RTPI fresh in his mind following our meeting last month. And, I watched with appreciation as he talked of the importance of placemaking in the Levelling Up session.

UK planning has the potential to be a global export, and it belongs on the international stage.

UK politics aside, MIPIM was an opportunity for the RTPI to talk to international cultures, sharing the expertise, experience and reputation of town planning in the UK and Ireland. UK planning has the potential to be a global export, and it belongs on the international stage.

That’s why we took the opportunity to launch Planning is Global, the RTPI’s new report that highlights the work of its many members working outside of the borders of the UK and Ireland, shining a light on their expertise to ensure they receive the recognition they deserve.

Our recent research shows that planning brings in millions to the UK economy, but isn’t individually collected. Instead, it’s included with architectural services. Planning could have a much larger impact if the passion and expertise of consultancies, both large and small, were showcased as one key export alongside higher education, the creative industries and finance.

By showcasing the work of our members to an international audience, we are not only able to highlight the tireless efforts that our members go to, to help improve the lives of people throughout the world, but showcase the potential economic benefits of the UK planning sector to an international audience.

Spring statement

As the fears of a cost of living increase loomed, we at the RTPI were prepared for a lack of planning recognition from Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak in the Spring Statement.

And, while planners and other built environment professionals will have supported the announcement of new measures to remove VAT from the installation of domestic solar panels and wind turbines, we are left with concerns around planning’s contribution to the UK’s future prospects.

The government has shown that it can reduce the cost to retrofit green alternative energies in our homes. But, the RTPI wants to see these same technologies integrated into the towns and landscapes where we live for a sustainable future.

We want to see long-term solutions backed by investment, and we will continue to advocate for these in Parliament, bringing the RTPI member’s expertise to bear on issues in practice and governance that maximise the benefits of investment in planning.

Planner Live North

We ended the month strongly, hosting our successful and inspiring conference Planner Live North: A Northern Renaissance.

This two-day online event was chaired by the RTPI President Timothy Crawshaw, looking at how place-based solutions can help shape the globally competitive area of England. 

The planning agenda in the North is as relevant now as ever. Our event looked at how the planning sector can create opportunities in our underfunded North to attract investment and drive sustainable business growth. 

It was an honour to see such an esteemed roster of experts tackle key challenges facing our coastal and urban environments across the North and effective strategies for tackling climate change, working through key themes of 'Regeneration and Renaissance' and 'Rural and Coastal Regeneration'. So all in all, a packed month, but lots more to follow!

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