Janet Askew accepted an invitation to chair a roundtable with a group of planning consultants in Bristol last week; an opportunity for an open discussion about the state of planning in England today, its future and the relationship between the RTPI and its members in practice.
Some probing questions were put to the President as well as opinions about what members would like to see improved at the RTPI.
Housing, increased politicisation, lack of resourcing for local authorities and concerns about the treatment of viability in the profession and by government were the main concerns, and the question was relatively simple: what is the RTPI is doing about it? Janet listened carefully, taking the opportunity to draw attention to the work the RTPI was doing to influence government thorough consultation responses and roundtables, as well as its own extensive research programme and recent publications; strategic planning, delivering large scale housing and the economic value of planning, for example. She also thought it was important in times of public criticism of planning, for everyone to step back and look at the huge successes planning has achieved recently and in the past, which are recognised as exemplars by rest of the world.
The need to continue to recruit talent into the profession, and to find different ways to do this, also gained consensus. Recent initiatives by RTPI such as the new bursaries for post graduate students and the introduction of RTPI apprenticeships for school leavers also attracted interest.