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Networks: A valued part of the RTPI

Dr Ada Lee is RTPI’s Infrastructure and Climate Change Specialist. She is currently leading the evidence collection process for the Institute’s Networks Review.  

I was welcomed by a cacophony of conversations as soon as I entered the room where the Planning Enforcement Conference was held last week. Delegates excitedly exchanged their views on the morning panels and shared with one another the joy and challenges they faced in their daily work.

These vibrant scenes of knowledge exchange point to the value of networking and the important role RTPI networks play – in this case the National Association of Planning Enforcement (NAPE).

In a previous blogpost published in March, we explained that the RTPI is currently conducting a review of its four policy/practice-focused networks. Alongside NAPE, the three other networks under review are Transport Planning Network (TPN), Urban Design Network (UDN) and Independent Consultants’ Network (ICN).

The evidence collection process for the Networks Review is ongoing. We have so far reflected on how networks can support various objects of the Institute and Profession, benchmarked ourselves against other similar institutions, analysed other membership body research, interviewed current chairs and steering groups/ management committee members, and conducted workshops with a specific EDI focus.

Going forward, we will continue to seek comments and ideas from the networks themselves and the wider membership. Members’ views are a core part of this review and will inform our next steps. As such:

  • We expect a membership-wide survey to be launched this summer, while continuing to engage with members through a range of methods.
  • This piece of work is guided by the Policy, Practice and Research Committee and the Board of Trustees will have oversight of the final recommendations.
  • We are hoping to be able to report on the results towards the end of the year

Our research so far has shown that networks are deeply valued by the Institute and its members. They encourage informed discussion and debate, and sharing of good practice and information. They also cultivate the ‘professional community’ and enable peer support.

There is however scope to reflect whether ‘networks’ is the most appropriate description of the work of these groups. The contribution from the four groups goes a lot further than offering networking opportunities. Knowledge exchange within networks also often happens outside of an event setting.

We thank everyone who has taken the time to speak to us so far. If any member wants to give any further feedback or initial thoughts to the project team, please feel free to email [email protected].

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