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Timothy Crawshaw: Reflections on UKREiiF

Timothy David Crawshaw MRTPI FRSA is the RTPI President in 2022

Leeds in the sunshine was a great place to be and was a fantastic location for the inaugural, and soon no doubt to be established annually, UK Real Estate, Infrastructure and Investment Forum (UKREiiF).

The event had clearly been well planned and the Royal Armouries was a fantastic venue in the heart of the North to discuss Levelling Up in the context of the urgent challenges of climate change and creating a fair and inclusive society.

One of the great strengths of the event was the opportunity for the public sector to share a platform with private investors and developers on an equal and collaborative footing. I was impressed with the range of sessions that were hosted in the pavilions that framed the central space, which served as a fantastic networking space. New friendships and collaborations were forged, and old ones rekindled in the sunshine.

It was fantastic to see the emphasis on the once considered fringe issues of diversity and inclusion, the climate crisis, and the challenge of levelling up being to the fore and discussed with passion and enthusiasm by expert panels drawn from the public and private sectors.

From city officials and politicians to corporate and business leaders and with the voices of industry experts adding high level expertise, it was clear that collaboration and sharing was of benefit to all and the way forward in delivering place-based approaches to these important matters.

As professional planners, we are ideally placed to be the glue between all of the professional disciplines, political leaders and communities as we have the overview of the opportunities, constraints and delivery that creates an inclusive society. I took the opportunity to fly the flag for planning as the guiding light and route map to cost-effective and holistic investments that deliver multiple benefits, recognising the challenges of our age.

As an Institute we were well represented with excellent coverage hosting a very successful round table on the Tuesday, with multiple accolades that rebounded well afterwards and stimulating unsolicited compliments from many of the delegates that we met. With thanks to Sue Bridge for covering for me as I had a long-standing speaking engagement.

Joined by members of the BAME Planners Network, we had an excellent time at the UKREiiF Awards dinner where I had the pleasure of sharing thoughts and reflections with Stuart Andrew MP and Joanna Averley, as we were treated to a great demonstration of UK best practice in regeneration, infrastructure, and investment projects large and small. It was great to see RTPI members receive awards and nominations, including winners Peter George of Enfield Council and our friends at Lichfields.

Overall UK REiiF was a celebration of the best of the built environment as an agent for transformation and a show of confidence post pandemic.

Yes the road is long and there will be challenges on the way, but the collective efforts of the public and private sector will form part of the solution. In future years I hope the role of planning remains a key theme and that there is a sustained recognition of the planning profession in guiding and stimulating the much needed investments required to transform our places, economy and society.

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