Timothy Crawshaw MA MRTPI FRSA is President of the RTPI (2022).
This year I have greatly enjoyed visiting colleagues in our nations and regions. It’s been a busy few months, and I hope to capture the energy and warm welcome I received wherever I am lucky enough to visit.
Visiting Belfast for the first time in September was a delight, the local members made me very welcome, and we shared a lot of learning and experiences. Planning at a local government level is still relatively new dating from 2015 and there are many challenges in terms of resources and infrastructure constraints. However, I met many ambitious planners with a passion for placemaking who were making things happen in the city.
The Titanic Quarter
Visiting the Titanic Quarter was a real treat and gave a flavour of both the history and regeneration ambitions of the city. In the actual drawing office where the Titanic was designed, we heard about the masterplan for the area from colleagues at Turley Associates.
Connswater was a clear demonstration of the importance of the restoration of watercourses within our towns and cities, providing much needed recreation and leisure opportunities whilst also being a catalyst for transformation. CS Lewis Square lies at the heart of the renaissance of the area with sculptures that celebrate the work of the author of the much loved Chronicles of Narnia.
A community conversation
For me, visiting the new Urban Room at 2 Royal Avenue was a clear reminder of the need to keep an ongoing conversation with communities going on to stimulate participation and engagement in the planning process. With a range of displays, exhibitions, and engagement activities, including Your City Your Voice Belfast, this space was also hosting Tai Chi classes alongside a range of events, bringing wellbeing, culture and the future of the city together, in an inspiring and replicable way in what was previously a vacant retail unit.
The Urban Room is a welcoming and flexible space in a former Tesco building
Climate change and health
I was delighted to the speak at the Northern Ireland Planning Conference on the theme of climate change and health. The quality and range of speakers was fantastic, and the event was well attended with a growing consensus developing that climate action, inequalities and wellbeing are intertwined and urgent issues.
With many thanks to the Northern Ireland team and Mura Quigley, Chair of the Northern Ireland Branch.