President of the RTPI Richard Summers toured the East of England Region last month, spending two days to take in some of the best examples of planning that the region has to offer.
He started his visit by participating in a workshop on Marine & Terrestrial Planning held at Great Yarmouth. In the afternoon Richard visited Happisburgh, in Norfolk where he was able to see first hand the dramatic effects of costal erosion in the region. Afterwards Richard travelled to North Norfolk Council Offices in Cromer where met the planning staff, Cllr Keith Johnson (Portfolio Holder for Development Planning) and Chief Executive, Philip Burton.
The marine theme continued into the second day with a visit to Southend to see the new Southend Swimming and Diving Centre. The centre was recently named winner of the Best Technical Design and Construction 2011 category in the Local Authority Building Control (East Anglia) Building Excellence Awards. The centre is to be used as a London 2012 training base by gold medal hopeful Tom Daley and fellow members of the British Olympic diving team. Richard met Council Leader Nigel Holdcroft and Deputy Leader John Lamb and Chair of Planning Brian Kelly as well as Regional Chair, Peter Geraghty, Andrew Meddle and members of the planning team at Southend.
After his visit to the Centre Richard Summers went on to Southend Airport to examine plans for the proposed runway extension and the airport's new railway station. The site is the subject of a Joint Area Action Plan a collaborative project between Southend Borough Council and Rochford District Council. Richard took the opportunity whilst visiting the airport to meet and talk to planners from both authorities.
He also visited a number of important highway and infrastructure improvements in the town delivered as part of the £25million \"Better Southend Initiative\". Hot foot from Southend the President travelled to Bury St. Edmunds to attend a 'question time' styled discussion entitled the "The Great Debate - Big Society & the Built Environment - Will Communities Embrace Localism?\" The panel included representatives from the RIBA, RICS, ICE, Landscape Institute and Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney.