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The Planner Live North:

Collaboration, Competition and Community

Tuesday 19 March, at Hotel Football, Manchester

Current economic forces tend to drive inequality and divisions in society. This has been particularly acute when looking at intra-regional divisions across the North both between and within communities. In this conference we pose the question: “How would a rejuvenated planning system help reduce division, increase collaboration and assist in delivering sustainable development without inhibiting natural competition between communities?”

Examining how these elements help drive policy at pan-regional, town, city and neighbourhood levels, the conference will enable delegates to share experiences and participate in new RTPI research on the development of a renewed Strategic Planning Approach for the North of England.


9.30 am      Registration and Refreshments

10.00 am    Welcome and intro from the Chair

  • Jane Healey-Brown, Director and Global Town Planning Lead, Arup

10.15 am     Overview from the RTPI

  • Lindsey Richards, RTPI President

10.20 am     Plenary 1 - Planning for the North

The role planning can play in making our towns, cities and regions in the North competitive, dynamic, inclusive and sustainable.

  • Tom Bridges, UK Government and Innovation Leader, Arup

10.55 am   Plenary 2 - Collaboration or Competition?

This Panel session will look at how planners have worked together or bid against others to help achieve success in delivering sustainable developments. We’ll hear from a range of views across the public and private sector of the challenges and opportunities faced in advancing development propositions, dealing with cross boundary matters, social equality, economic forces between areas, infrastructure needs and financial pressures. This will provide delegates with an overview which they can take into the subsequent indepth sessions over the rest of the day.  

  • Chris Myers, Regeneration Project Manager - Durham County Council
  • James Beynon, Director - Quod in Leeds
  • Lindsay Whitley, Regional Programme Manager - One Public Estate, Local Government Association 

11.30 am     Break (20 mins)

11.50 am     Breakout Session 1 - Collaboration

This session will look at sharing best practice in joint working. This breakout session will hear about the benefits and challenges of joined-up plan making process, we will consider how local authorities can work together and make key decisions for the area to support development, whilst supporting local communities and enhancing the local built and natural environment. We will also hear about how public private partnerships can be key to delivery of development and bring value to local communities and the environment.

  • Sam Veal, Director, Igloo Regeneration
  • Toby Forbes-Turner, Principle Regeneration Officer, Lincoln Council
  • Chair - Emilly Kitching Bower, Senior Planner, Arup

Breakout Session 2 - Competition beyond and within the north

This session will consider competition beyond and within the North. This breakout session will focus on competition within and beyond the North. We will hear perspectives around bidding for funding, managing  the public estate and advancing propositions, it will also cover tendering opportunities into the development of the public estate and the approaches, challenges and opportunities that brings.  

  • Claire Linley, Planning Director, Strata
  • Holly Froggatt, Senior Planning and Enabling Manager, Homes England
  • Chair - Will Steel, Regional Chair - Yorkshire 

Breakout Session 3 Community Engagement

This session will look at how the community can be more actively engaged in planning and the decisions that help shape the places in which people live and work.  Public participation has always been central to the planning process, and planners are good at seeking to involve the public in planning decisions and policy making.  However, the processes can be complex and time consuming, and local planning authorities often do not have sufficient resources nor time to engage as effectively as they would like with the widest range of people and stakeholders.  Using a number of recent case studies, this session will draw on good practice and show how the many challenges and opportunities of achieving meaningful community engagement can be successfully addressed.

  • Sam Hayes, Project Manager, PLACED
  • Darren Muir, Director - Planning, Pegasus Group
  • Chair – Emma Dickson, Director, Head of Strategic Communications, Turley

12.45 pm     Lunch

  1.45 pm     Plenary 3 - Strategic Planning - an unmet need?

How do local authorities work (and fail to work) across their boundaries? The RTPI has commissioned a consortium of researchers to study the status and potential of strategic planning in England, with the hope of locating common cause and unarticulated demand for more effective strategic planning. This panel will feature three leading researchers currently involved, in an exclusive public discussion about their emerging findings

  • Hannah Hickman, Associate Professor, University of the West of England
  • Catriona Riddell, Director, Catriona Riddell & Associates Ltd
  • Richard Wood, Director, Richard Wood Associates Ltd
  • Chair - David Mountain, Research Manager, RTPI

  2.45 pm    Breakout Session 4 - A strategic approach to delivering development

Taking a more strategic approach is vital to the effective delivery of development and infrastructure. Identifying sites and land for new development, such as housing, employment or infrastructure projects, often requires a more than local approach to both policy making and delivery.  The planning system provides a framework within which different interests can work together, share resources and expertise, communicate effectively and work to agreed timescales. There are, however, numerous barriers to the effective delivery of (particularly large-scale) development.

This session will explore, using practical examples, how the adoption of a more strategic approach can help overcome some of these barriers and support the effective delivery of development.

  • Alex Maynard, Director of Delivery - GMCA 
  • Speaker from Atkins tbc 
  • Chair – Matt Dugdale, Regional Chair – North West

Breakout Session 5 - A strategic approach to delivering environmental benefits

Wider than local approaches to delivering improvements including biodiversity net gain, coastal management, and environmental protection.

  • Matt Kirby, Doctor of Philosophy, Northumbria University, Geography and Environmental Sciences
  • Nina Pindham, Barrister, Cornerstone
  • Chair – Tim Crawshaw, Regional Chair – North East  

  3.35 pm    Plenary 4 - Northern Stories: Narrative for people and place
What role do stories have to play in fostering collaboration between planners and the communities they serve? Join Jennie Savage, Joe Shute and Simon Wicks in an exploration of the power of storytelling to help us jointly imagine better futures for people and places.

  • Simon Wicks, Deputy Editor, The Planner
  • Jennie Savage, Public Realm Policy, Tower Hamlets
  • Joe Shute, Journalist, Author, PhD Researcher, Manchester Metropolitan University

  4.30 pm    Closing Summary

  • Led by Chair

  4.45 pm      Close