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UCL Professor, Michael Batty, says technology critical for better planning at annual lecture

09 November 2016

Prof . Michael Batty NLL 2016

Advances in technology have provided planners with a range of tools and software to assess projects in order to make better decisions on the future of large infrastructure projects. These large infrastructure projects underpin the future plans for the country.

Professor Michael Batty, a UCL Bartlett Professor of Planning, who has spent over 40 years developing and improving models for assessing the impact of projects was clear about how important they are for informing sound decision making. He told the sold out RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield Lecture last night that while 'models are getting bigger and faster the biggest change has been their [increased] availability and accessibility'.

His lecture, ‘The Planning Balance Sheet 60 Years On’ reflected on Nathaniel Lichfield’s planning balance sheet from the 1950s which was a way of evaluating the relative worth of one plan over another. Batty said the balance sheet had withstood the test of time although ‘the world has become digital and what was done using pencil and paper when Nat proposed his balance sheet is now informed by many new tools that are available to us all’.

Alison Nimmo, Chief Executive of The Crown Estate, who chaired the event referred to the lecture as a ‘tour de force’ as Batty provided the audience with a whirlwind history lesson in the technological advances made in modelling.

He cited the real world applications of his work, including a project in Dubai and how he had applied his ‘Quant model’ to current major infrastructure projects including the proposed Heathrow runway, Crossrail and HS2.

RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield Lecture 2016 Audience

This year’s RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield Lecture was particularly special as it is the 100th year of Lichfield’s birth. Batty told the audience that ‘Nat’s message’ was still relevant today – that there is no single number that can adequately evaluate a plan and, therefore, planners must generate alternative options to consider.

The RTPI Nathaniel Lichfield Lecture is generously sponsored by Dalia Lichfield.