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Victoria Hills: It Takes Planners & your investment

On World Town Planning Day 2023, we launched our 'It Takes Planner &' campaign. The campaign aims to highlight the crucial role that planners play in creating livable and healthy communities, while working to insulate our members against growing cases of misinformation and misunderstandings about the planning profession.

At the core of the campaign is a significant investment in the professional development and well-being of planners. Today, I want to address employers in the planning profession, asking you to demonstrate your confidence in your team and stand in solidarity with the profession by supporting their chartered membership fees.

The RTPI chartership is widely recognised for its importance, professionalism, and significance across the planning profession. Today, the Scottish Government announced guidance for Chief Planning Officers, stating that having RTPI chartered membership is highly desirable, as advocated for by the RTPI and outlined in our Planifesto. The guidance emphasises the professional and ethical standards, professional development, and the need to adhere to the RTPI Code of Conduct that come with RTPI chartership. We hope to see this implemented elsewhere.

Local Planning Authorities, along with the broader public sector, are currently facing the challenges of meeting growing expectations and regulatory requirements, whilst also seeing to realise the full potential of proactive planning. The demand for new homes, infrastructure, employment space, access to nature, and quality public open spaces, in addition to delivering new requirements such as biodiversity net gain and reaching net zero, is adding greater pressure on our already overstretched public sector planners.

Local authorities sit at the heart of these competing demands for valuable space. Their planning teams play an invaluable role in setting out the spatial plan for the future and managing the use of the limited spaces. The Local Plan is one of the sharpest tools available to local authorities to deliver their corporate objectives and serve the communities that elect them.

Navigating this agenda requires not only professionally competent planners but also planners who undertake regular Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to stay abreast of the rapidly changing policy arena and regulatory requirements.

Beyond their rigorous education and training, chartered members are held to a code of professional conduct that ensures they maintain the highest standards throughout their careers.

As an RTPI member, your planners will be required to complete 50 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) in every two-year period and to prepare a professional development plan that is refreshed annually.

Investing in professional standards is investing in trust for communities and businesses. Integrity and professionalism are essential to building and maintaining trust with communities, developers, investors, and beyond. A trusted and respected team can authentically demonstrate that difficult planning decisions are taken with professional advice from qualified professionals with not only the highest levels of conduct and integrity but also with the latest expert knowledge.

We understand that budgets, particularly those in local authorities, are limited. However, we believe that cutting professional fees may result in higher costs for the community in the long run. Offering quality services to residents, investors, and businesses, ensuring that they receive the best deal, the highest environmental and social value from developments, requires upfront investment to generate long-term benefits for the community.

Beyond their rigorous education and training, chartered members are held to a code of professional conduct that ensures they maintain the highest standards throughout their careers. For employers, ensuring your staff are chartered planners mitigates risk and ensures a workforce that is up-to-date with emerging planning policy and practice, reducing training costs, and ensuring continued excellence.

In a world of uncertainty and rapid change, the value of professional qualified planners cannot be overstated. As we look to the future, let us reaffirm our commitment to supporting and empowering those who shape the world we live in. Through initiatives like the 'It Takes Planner &' campaign, we can ensure that planners have the resources and recognition they need to continue building vibrant, sustainable communities for generations to come.

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