One of the highlights of the RTPI President’s visit to the nations and regions each year is meeting with RTPI members, and she was able to meet four groups of planners along the south coast, including in three local planning authorities and at a leading consultancy.
She was greeted in Bournemouth by Andy England, former chair of South West RTPI Region, and Phil Bissatt, who will be chair in 2016. The first stop on Janet's busy schedule was a meeting with Mike Holmes, Director for Planning, Transport & Regulation ServicesIn at Bournemouth council, who briefed her on her issues facing the area - the challenges and the opportunities.
Janet (pictured, left) confessed that she had not been to Bournemouth since 1957, and she was interested to see the immense changes that had taken place. Bournemouth remains a thriving resort with a spectacular coast, with 7 miles of sandy beach, a very young population, two universities and a growing financial sector, as firms re-locate from London. She was impressed with the conservation of the historic gardens and the new public realm at the head of the pier. Councillor David Smith was proud to show her some new affordable flats that had been built in the city centre alongside a renewed park, all contributing to making Bournemouth a very desirable and attractive place to live.
At Terence O’Rourke consultants, Janet (pictured with the team) was interested to hear about some innovative approaches to Local Development Orders, which the Government is promoting. In Poole, the planners showed her the new and iconic road bridge, which opened up large amounts of land for further development to enhance the port function, and she commended new housing which will lead the way for the future design of new housing in this area alongside the harbour.
Planners everywhere are frank with their President about the some of the hurdles and challenges they are facing – in the public and private sectors, but there is plenty to see which bears witness to the value of planning in every place. In Purbeck, a very different rural authority, the chief planner, Alan Davies and his team of planners outlined their local plan, which is working to contain and direct development in a very sensitive area, in particular along the UNESCO world heritage site of the Jurassic Coast.
Planners in Poole told Janet about the economic efforts that they had been making to increase the success of Poole as a port. In particular, the building of the new Twin Sails Bridge opened up new land for development. The President was taken by Poole planners to see new housing (pictured, right) which had been built as a result of this, where she commented on the design, and expressed the view that she would like to return to see this area when the development was completed.