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Bethany Rance: Reflections on becoming East of England Young Planner of the Year

Bethany Rance is RTPI Young Planner of the Year for the East of England 2023

It has been an honour and a pleasure to be the RTPI’s Young Planner of the Year for the East of England in 2023. The recognition from my peers, the Institute, and the judging panel has been a real boost for me early in my career.

Winning has opened the door to lots of fantastic opportunities and enabled me to share my enthusiasm and interests with likeminded planners across the UK; I was able to attend the Young Planners Conference in Birmingham for a packed two-day trip of learning and networking, be involved in the President’s visit to the district, and was invited to speak at the RTPI and Planning Portal’s National Planning Conference, to name a few. It has also put me in touch with other regional and national award winners, and the value of that networking and relationship building is immense. All the regional and national winners and finalists are exceptional and are a testament to the vitally important and valuable work that happens each day in the planning profession.


Bethany is presented with her award

Planning as a profession, and particularly in the public sector, often comes under intense scrutiny and pressure, and the awards are a way of taking a moment to come together and champion ourselves and the profession. Planning as a profession has faced and is facing many challenges – austerity, under-resourcing and over-working, misinformation, in ever-changing political and policy contexts, which often put it in the headlines. Celebrating planners’ achievements, particularly in the face of these challenges, puts planning in the headlines for the right reasons. Planners need to shout more about all the good work, the wins, the bits we’re most proud of. This is especially true for planners in the public sector. The awards are a great way of doing that. I’m proud to champion planning in the East of England and for East Suffolk Council.

These awards are a way of bringing planners across the profession together for a night of reflection and celebration of achievements and best practice.

The awards are a fantastic way of showcasing and highlighting the great work that planners do for the communities we live and work in, recognising the important contribution the planning profession makes. They are also a great means of networking with planners from all over the profession, a really valuable opportunity for young planners in particular. I would highly encourage all planners to get involved with the awards and get submissions in!

I’m fortunate to be supported at East Suffolk Council by a great planner and mentor, my manager Naomi Goold, who nominated me for the award. I asked Naomi how she found the submission process.

“The process was straightforward, and easy to complete. The first thing I did was read the criteria for the Young Planner of the Year award on the RTPI website, then I kept that in mind when writing the submission and used it as a guide.

"Don’t rush writing the submission, take the time to think of the best examples and achievements to refer to. Make sure your submission is easy for the judges to read and understand. Take your time and go back to the criteria to reflect, and importantly, take a moment to proofread and sense-check your submission before submitting it.”

There’s lots of great guidance and case studies of previous award winners on the RTPI website to read before submitting a nomination too. If anyone needs any help with their submission, I recommend reading the how to win tips or watching the webinar.

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