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Phil Williams becomes RTPI President

21 January 2016

Phil WPhil Williams was inaugurated as President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on Wednesday at a ceremony in central London.

Phil, who is Director of Planning and Place at Belfast City Council, has 35 years' experience in the public sector in London and Welsh local authorities. He has successfully led on a wide range of major projects, including the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay and city centre and key regeneration and reclamation schemes in Wales.

In his speech, Phil set out his desire over the next twelve months to improve relationships with politicians at national, regional and local levels, and to better listen and engage with people and communities.

Phil Williams said:

“My theme for 2016 is placing planning and planners at the centre of the debate. To try to simplify the message: planning has a relationship with people in the communities that we serve, and politicians who are democratically elected by those communities. We have a relationship with people and politicians, and they have a relationship between themselves. We are all striving for a better society, a better sense of place within the community.

If you take planning and planners out of that triangular relationship, the prospect of delivering balanced communities where people want to live, work and spend their leisure time in, and that politicians strive for won’t be realised and the triangle collapses.”

Making a difference

Phil Family“Having worked in the planning profession for over three decades, I am a firm believer in how planning makes a difference. The interface between planners in local government, and the private and voluntary sectors is critical to the delivery of solutions to key challenges that face society, and communities within society, at every level. Planners think differently to all other professions, more holistically, more laterally and always balancing the options of choice in a measured and objective way. It’s what we do best, and what others need to rely on.”

Growing members

“2016 is the year when we will be doing everything we can to build our membership. These are challenging times. The greater our numbers however, the stronger we are. So I fully intend to play my part in helping to grow our members as I visit the Nations and Regions and speak to employers. We all have a part to play in demonstrating the value of RTPI membership, especially chartered membership”.

My theme for 2016 is placing planning and planners at the centre of the debate. To try to simplify the message: planning has a relationship with people in the communities that we serve, and politicians who are democratically elected by those communities. We have a relationship with people and politicians, and they have a relationship between themselves. We are all striving for a better society, a better sense of place within the community.

The year ahead

“I will use my visits to Nations and Regions to listen to, and learn from, Nations and Regions about the positive influences planning and planners are making to their communities, and I intend to visit them all within my Presidential year.  Seeing examples of good practice on the ground and sharing these processes is the most important learning tool.”

International

“The Institute already has a significant influence on the international stage. We now have members in over 80 different countries and are recognised as a global leader in planning. Without doubt, 2016 is going to be a very important year internationally. The RTPI will be doing everything we can to influence the debate with our global partners in the run up to the hugely important Habitat III meeting in Quito, Ecuador.”

Thank you Janet

Janet Inaural NightPhil praised outgoing President Janet Askew (pictured, right):

"I intend to carry on the excellent and innovative work that our Immediate Past President, Janet Askew. She has worked tirelessly over the past year, setting the bar at the highest level.”

Phil’s background

Phil Williams is Belfast City Council’s first Director of Planning and Place, having taken up post in June 2015 following the transfer of planning powers to local government. Phil was previously the Vice President of the RTPI, and chair of the RTPI Regions and Nations Panel. He holds a BA ( Hons) Geography degree from Kings College London, an MSc in Planning from Cardiff University, and an MBA from the University of South Wales.

More information

Watch Phil Williams speech on Youtube  

Listen to Phil Williams speech as a podcast

Read Phil Williams speech in full 

See photos of the evening 

Watch Janet Askew's speech on Youtube  

Read Janet Askew's speech in full.

Listen to Janet Askew's speech as a podcast