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Leading with confidence as an RTPI Fellow

Clive Brook is an RTPI Fellow and a freelance consultant

The services provided by the planning profession have never been more important to society at large than they are at this moment. Yet, their individual and combined values are still not sufficiently recognised by the public and many politicians.   

The time is now to help lead the industry

The UK and the wider world must tackle the triple interlocking challenges of climate change, environmental degradation, and the need to enhance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Our Institute has been very active in recent years in promoting the central and collaborative roles which planners should play in responding to these challenges. However, despite the quality of the Institute’s research and PR, government and the public are paying insufficient attention to the key messaging.

At this crucial time, and as we move nearer to the threshold year of 2030, as planners we will need to engage all our resources to fully address the challenges ahead. In this context I believe that Fellows of the Institute are uniquely placed, as individuals and a group to make an important contribution.

In certain key respects this membership group comprises an underused resource. This is particularly true of the advocacy role, which these members could play.  Achievement of fellowship is a recognition of an individual’s wide skill set and experience developed over several years plus their innovative contributions to methodologies, policies and projects. This overall advocacy role has a number of target areas, some of which are already being acted upon, but need greater emphasis. These include the following:

  • The lobbying of government and the media as an expert group on key issues, a tactic which has been successfully deployed by other professions for many years, particularly in law and medicine.
  • Individual and collaborative actions to encourage young entrants into the profession and involvement in their training at key stages as mentors, assessors (e.g. on the new planning apprenticeship course), and part-time practitioner-tutors on degree courses.
  • Acting as leading change-makers/advisors on integrated planning projects which truly meet all three objectives of sustainable development with positive environmental contributions.
  • Involvement in the design and application of CPD courses and events aimed at re-skilling existing members so that they are better equipped to make their full contribution to the three interlocking challenges.
  • Advocacy and engagement within communities to assist in the development of more successful and sustainable neighbourhood plans and project outcomes.

Clive’s journey to gaining a Fellowship

My personal journey to gaining Fellowship of the Institute in 1992 started in local government in 1966, as a graduate trainee at Essex County Council. Following 18 years in local government posts, I established Clive Brook Associates in Leeds in 1984. Sixteen years later, I sold the business to Turley Associates becoming a main board director of this UK-wide consultancy. Lead director roles in other companies followed. I am now ‘semi-retired’ as I approach my 56th year in the planning profession as a freelance consultant.

The RTPI Fellowship gave me enhanced confidence in my professional abilities when acting as managing director in my own company and in subsequent lead consultancy roles. Clients and colleague professionals gave recognition to this verified professional status and were happier in using my services and appointing me as project director and lead planning witness on several large and complex development schemes. The presentation of papers at national and international conferences were a further career benefit. 

Both the pandemic through the last couple of years and my accumulated experience have enabled me to complete a book. The book combines memoir, history and current affairs and has as its central themes, planning’s contributions to the health and wellbeing and to the general public good, contrary to the predominant view of the many detractors of the system. I now hope that my Fellowship will help me to gain a publisher and a wide audience for the messages I am seeking to convey.

At a meeting of Fellows in London at the end of November 2021, we were very surprised to learn that our total representation within the Institute had declined markedly to around 95 individuals amongst an increased world-wide membership of some 27,000. When this stark fact and the challenges faced by our profession are combined they lead to one overwhelming conclusion.

There is now a great and pressing need for many chartered members to apply for fellowship. The case for increasing the number of Fellows, in the very short term, is encapsulated in the challenges and the areas of advocacy I have summarised. It would be no exaggeration to aim for a target of at least 400 new fellows over the next two years.        

Start your application to becoming a Chartered Fellow by following the link here.

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