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We must speak up for planning, says new RTPI President

24 January 2019

The new President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has used his inauguration speech to emphasize the vital role played by both planning and planners in addressing important environmental issues and meeting the needs of communities.

Speaking to members of the RTPI’s General Assembly at the RSA in London, the message from Ian Tant MRTPI was that planners should be proud of their role as a force for good in society.

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He said: “As a profession, we are essential to making conscious choices about the changes we face. We are the enablers for clients, councils and communities in steering change.

“It’s in the public interest to achieve great buildings and places in which to work and to live and to ensure that we have the right number of homes, work places, parks, gardens, accessible countryside, all available to raise our quality of life and to safeguard against environmental threats.

“I want to tell future generations of planners that planning matters – that it deals with important issues for society, our communities, the economy and the environment.”

Ian’s speech also touched on some of the challenges faced by planners, many of which have resulted from the shortage of resources within local planning authorities.

He said: “By and large, local planning authorities lack adequate investment in the planning service and sufficiently senior leadership to ensure that the benefits of planning are recognised – and resources allocated – within councils.

“There is also an urgent need to reinforce professionalism for local authority planners, with councillors and chief executives acknowledging the importance of promoting and securing Chartered status for their planning staff.”

Ian, who takes over as President from John Acres, will serve in the role for one year.

Ian took his first planning role at Broxbourne District Council in 1979, and went on to spend 30 years at planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, becoming senior partner in 2004. Since 2016, he has worked as a freelance consultant.