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Planning profession must become more diverse, says new RTPI President

22 January 2020

The new President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has used her inaugural speech to stress that work must continue on ensuring that planning becomes truly reflective of society.

Speaking at a meeting of the RTPI’s General Assembly at the Royal Society of the Arts in London, Sue Manns FRTPI, the Institute’s seventh female president in its 106-year history, said that the planning profession still had ‘a long way to go’ in terms of diversity, particularly in senior positions.

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Image: New RTPI President Sue Manns speaking at the Royal Society of the Arts in London

She said: “Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not. With complex issues, such as those tackled by planners, it is simply not possible for one person or a group of people from similar backgrounds, to have all the relevant insights.

“The Corporate Strategy launched earlier today contains, as one of its four pillars, the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusivity. Work on an Action Plan which will set out how we can move forward on this, is now nearing completion.”

Sue also spoke about climate change, stressing that the decisions of planners in the coming years will have a profound impact on future generations.

She said: “Our focus needs to be on more than limiting emissions to net zero by 2050 or sooner - it also needs to be on how our urban and rural areas can be equipped to adapt to the physical impacts and risks of climate change for the sake of future generations.”

Sue takes over as President from Ian Tant MRTPI and will serve in the role for one year.

Born and raised in the West Midlands, Sue’s career in planning has spanned 40 years including roles in the public sector at Birmingham City Council and Advantage West Midlands, in the private sector at Arup and Pegasus Planning Group, in academia as a senior lecturer in planning law and practice at the University of Central England (now BCU) and finally as National Planner for Planning Aid England. She now runs her own practice and is a visiting lecturer at Birmingham University.


Watch Sue's inaugural speech in full