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Lindsey Richards: Minneapolis opens its doors to Planners

Lindsey Richards FRTPI is RTPI President 2024

I'm not sure what I expected of Minneapolis, and I thought I knew what to expect of NPC 24, (The American Planners Association National Planning Conference 2024). Both surpassed my expectations. 

Minneapolis is a city known for its lakes and parks and six months of inclement weather where the skyways provide an alternative route through the city. Personally the jury is still out on impact at street level but it provided one of many talking points amongst the 4000 planners attending the NCP24 conference. 

Maybe Minneapolis is not top of any list for a holiday destination but it has so much to offer in all seasons and it is a fascinating city for any planner to explore. 

NCP24 is attended by planners (and non planners) from across the many states of the USA and also representatives from many international institutes. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet my counterparts from America, New Zealand, Australia and Canada and exchange our experiences, knowledge and shared challenges to a packed auditorium on the first day of the conference. 

All three days were packed with so many talks covering a huge range of subjects, including policy reforms, with zoning and single family homes being high on the agenda, and of course the use of AI in planning. We heard about case studies, innovative approaches to community engagement and advice on career development for our younger planners. We were also offered tours to take in the city and its surrounding districts and workshops giving hands on experience of applying new tools and techniques.  

There were many key messages to take home, but one which resonated with all the planning institutes was that we must remain relevant and our institutes need to evolve in order to maintain and grow our membership and our impact. We should look to use hindsight, foresight and insight to set out options, be aspirational and be prepared for those changes. That's highly relevant in the current context of the review of our strategic objectives and Plan. 

I was pleased to be asked to put the UK perspective forward at three sessions covering the challenges of housing delivery, a session on deriving social value from healthy urban development and a workshop on the use of Health Impact Assessments. All were well attended and engaging sessions. 

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Lindsey (centre) with American Planning Association President (left) and New Zealand Planning Institute President (right)

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Lindsey spoke at three sessions

While there has been much to learn, one outcome which starts now is to bring together all my counterparts from New Zealand, Australia, America and Canada to set up regular Teams calls to share our experiences, raise new issues, and continue to learn from each other in what feels like the ever changing world of planning.  

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