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Andrew Pilkington: Giving town planning the X Factor

Andrew Pilkington is the Website Manager at the RTPI. 


As a parent I’m always curious what my children might want to do when they get older. Although it changes from one day to the next, some ideas have included an X Factor judge, a doctor, or an architect. If you’ve got children and ask them the same question I’m sure you’ll get some intriguing answers but I’m pretty sure a ‘town planner’ won’t be one of them.

So when we launched our new microsite ‘Planning Your World’ it came as no surprise that many of the brilliant young planners we featured fell into planning rather than sought it out. In the words of Farhana Hussein, a Senior Planning Consultant at Arup, “Planning was never an obvious career for me, I just happened to stumble across it.”

Another thing planners have in common who’ve stumbled across the job is their total passion and dedication to it. Frances Summers is a great example as she stumbled into planning and went on to become ‘Woman of Influence 2021’ and ‘South West Young Planner of the Year’,

As a profession planning is lucky to have exceptional people like Farhana and Frances, but we need to move forwards to a place where young people saying they want to become a town planner is no more surprising than aspirations to become an X Factor judge or an architect.

And that’s exactly what Planning Your World is about. We want to showcase the value of planning and highlight what planners can change. At the start of the project we surveyed members of the public about their knowledge of planning. The results from our research found that only 28.5% of participants recognised that planners can influence the economy; 32.7% recognised that planners can influence covid recovery and only 37.4% recognised that planners can influence issues around climate change and the environment.

Planning Your World aims to tackle that lack of understanding around what planners do and to showcase the significant influence they can have over health, the environment, the economy, safer streets, and much more. And ultimately it aims to inspire young people to consider planning as a profession.

We’ve been promoting the campaign extensively and we’ve already had some great feedback from planners who have told us they will be using the site as a resource to help engage young people. We’ve also seen fantastic engagement with planners wishing to share their stories. But the real work starts now, as changing attitudes won’t happen overnight.

Share the campaign:

If you’d like to help promote our campaign please share any content from the website that has inspired you using #planningyourworld

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