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President’s visit to West Midlands: Ensuring pipeline of planners critical

20 March 2018

John With Vice Chancellor Of Birmingham City University (Professor Philip Plowden )_v2

Public and private sector organisations need to work more closely with universities to ensure a reliable supply of planners in the future. This includes better links with existing graduate training programmes run by employers and addressing potential skills gaps around planning law and viability.

The recruitment, education and training of planners was the focus of discussions during RTPI President John Acres MRTPI visit to members in the West Midlands. He met with Worcester City Council, held a meeting of Birmingham based planning consultants at engineering and planning consultancy Mott Macdonald and Birmingham’s two universities.

Mr Acres said the organisations he met with were thinking about how to exploit the benefits of HS2 to the region. He said that while proximity to HS2 is an opportunity in the longer term it is a challenge during the construction phase. Big projects like HS2 offer an exciting wok opportunity and are therefore attracting many planners from other roles within the region, which creates recruitment pressures elsewhere.

Following his visits to Birmingham City University (pictured above, right with their Vice Chancellor Professor Philip Plowden) and the University of Birmingham, which both run RTPI accredited planning courses, John said:

"It’s fantastic to see the work that both planning schools in Birmingham are doing to prepare young people for the profession.  We need to build upon this and strengthen the RTPI ambassadors programme to promote planning across all sectors to attract young people into the planning profession.’’

John With Officers From Worcester City Council In Cathedral Square Lto R - Philippa Smith , Maria Dunn , John Acres , Dr Paul C

John also visited a range of regeneration and improvement projects, including the Cathedral Square redevelopment, initiated by Worcester City Council. The Cathedral Square development includes a new public square overlooking Worcester Cathedral and the realignment of the adjacent highway to more effectively link the new public square, city centre, the Cathedral and the Riverside. He is pictured with officers from Worcester City Council in Cathedral Square: Philippa Smith, Maria Dunn MRTPI, John Acres MRTPI, Dr Paul C (L-R).

John said:

“The Council’s planning team have been at the heart of the Cathedral Square development from the very beginning - identifying it as an important site for regeneration. They helped to negotiate improvements to the plan to maximise the quality of the development and ensure the different parts of the plan – the retail and leisure facilities, new public space and highways upgrades – all worked together. Their support and guidance throughout the project have helped to ensure its success.”

In the evening, he met with the region’s Young Planners Network at a reception in Birmingham. Young Planners wanting to become Chartered are encouraged to attend a free Licentiate APC event on 9 April in Birmingham.

Interested in how planning can tackle challenges across the Commonwealth? Panel event on 22 March in Birmingham will encourage planners to think global.