RTPI President Phil Williams has visited members in Bristol, Plymouth (pictured below) and Stroud this week during his visit to the South West of England. He was encouraged by the valuable contribution they are making to deliver growth, build houses and facilitate economic regeneration across the region.
The South West is the largest of the nine English regions with growth focused around Bristol and South East Dorset. The character of many small country and seaside towns is changing due to population growth, which is expected to be 17% higher by 2030.
The region’s planning issues are as diverse as the region itself with councils having to innovate in order to accommodate and facilitate growth. Plymouth City Council’s Plymouth Plan and the RTPI award winning Plan for Homes, are exemplars of the outstanding work of planners in the region.
After meeting with councillors in Plymouth, including the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Housing, Transport and Planning and the Chair of the Planning Committee, Phil went on a walking tour of Millbay. Millbay is currently being transformed through major regeneration to position Plymouth as ‘one of Europe’s finest, most vibrant waterfront cities’.
The President also met young planners in the region at the iconic Royal William Yard, and heard about the important role they are playing on key projects and initiatives.
Phil also discussed the Plymouth Plan, the award winning, ambitious Plan for Homes and the current extensive consultation the council is undertaking in order to develop the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.
“Plymouth City Council’s planning team are a dynamic and innovative bunch who are using the planning system to deliver an ambitious agenda on housing, growth and economic regeneration. Having seen them in action reinforces why the Institute has awarded them a number of prestigious awards, including planning team of the year and our greatest accolade at this year’s annual planning awards. Their inclusive and genuine approach to community engagement is evident in their latest local plan consultation.”
Listen: Phil Williams speaks about planning in Plymouth, his role in Belfast and which animal he'd choose to be in their 'Sounds Like a Plan' podcast.
Phil met with members at Bristol City Council to discuss local development issues including affordable housing, out of centre retail and other development pressures. He was briefed on the councils plans for Old Market, a historic shopping area which is now a nationally significant conservation area. He also discussed the Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone which is focused on creative, high-tech and low-carbon industries.
“The planning team at Bristol City Council is providing effective and forward thinking planning. I was pleased to see the team’s role in working to put Bristol at the heart of the West of England economy to maximise growth and deliver housing. They are doing this in consultation with the community by listening to them about what they think they need from their city. The ability to balance a range of interests and deliver for the community like this demonstrates the value of the work planners do.”
On his way from Plymouth to Stroud he inspected the new Motorway Service Area on M5 Northbound between Junction 13 and 12 (pictured right).
After meeting with members at Stroud District Council he went on a tour of the Stroud Water Canal (pictured right with Stroud Planning Team Manager John Longmuir) looking at the regeneration of the canal which has acted as a catalyst for development. He then went on to Littlecombe for a viewing and briefing on the regeneration of the former Lister Petter works undertaken by St Modwen.
“There’s a lot happening in Stroud. For its size, Stroud District Council is leading some exciting projects that are transforming the area and bringing in huge investment. At the same time, the planners are managing these changes sensitively demonstrating their value in the process by delivering the best possible economic, social and environmental outcomes.”
Phil will next be visiting members in Yorkshire on 28 and 29 July.
Read: President praises proactive planning during Scottish visit (2/3 June)
Read: Rallying cry to politicians to take planning seriously
Read: Location of Development - report on the South West of England