Richard Summers becomes President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) today (19 January) in succession to Ann Skippers. His theme for the year as President will be Promoting Planning and Planners in Challenging Times.
Richard Summers said:
\"The recession, deep spending cuts, the introduction of the Localism Bill, changes to the planning system in Northern Ireland and coming elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire all represent a huge challenge to the profession through 2011. That's why I am determined to work tirelessly over the next twelve months to fulfil my Presidential theme to promote planners and planning at every possible opportunity\".
One of Richard's key aims is to work with the Government to make the Localism Bill work effectively for local communities through spatial planning:
\"We support the Localism Bill in principle because we believe local people should have a greater opportunity to have a say in the way their area develops. But we are still concerned about various features in the drafting of the legislation that need clarification not least the complexity of the proposed arrangements for neighbourhood planning\".
As part of his Presidential year, Richard will re-launch the previous Leaders Awards as 'Leaders in Local Community Planning' to show how planners can make localism work in practice. He will also be running informal \"colloquia\" discussions about 'making localism work through spatial planning' face-to-face with RTPI members during his regional visits. He plans to bring back bright ideas and good practice to government, the RTPI Board and the RTPI General Assembly.
Richard Summers, 64, is currently Head of Planning at The Landscape Partnership. He has over 40 years professional experience specialising in spatial planning and economic development in this country and also abroad. He has led numerous consultancy projects in economic strategy and urban regeneration across all the English regions.
Richard Summers added:
\"Spatial planning is not fully understood and its vital role in supporting economic recovery is still often overlooked. I will therefore be making the case to ministers across Whitehall and to local authority leaders up and down the country that planners have unique skills including an ability to synthesise complex issues and competing interests into deliverable solutions that work strategically and locally\".
\"I follow Ann Skippers' very successful Presidential year and hand over to Colin Haylock as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. We also welcome Peter Geraghty as our new Junior Vice President\".
Away from work, Richard is a keen motorcyclist. He has recently restored a Listed Building in Bury St Edmunds and through a deep interest in the \"spirit of place\" he also teaches meditation and the art of dowsing.