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As we enter 2022 it is an honour and a privilege to be Chair of the RTPI North East. With the past two years having been dominated by the global pandemic and the numerous challenges that it has presented for us all on both a personal and professional level, it genuinely feels like there is growing optimism for the year ahead with the majority of people having now adapted to a new normal in terms of employment, socialising, recreation and the way we live our lives.  

It is essential that planning remains at the forefront of economic recovery, both in the North East and nationally, and as a collective of planning professionals across the region we should applaud ourselves and be proud of the significant role that we have already played in ensuring continuity of the planning system throughout difficult and wholly unexpected circumstances. However, the role of the planning system has never been more important than it is right now as the region, and the country as a whole, looks to cement the recent steps towards economic bounce back.

As the Chair for 2022 my priority is to tackle the design agenda so that we can all better understand and work towards achieving the Government’s ambition of delivering beautiful buildings and beautiful places that was emphasised so strongly in last year’s update to the NPPF. To that end we will be hosting a number of design focussed events throughout the year including workshops, seminars, engagement sessions with developers and Local Authorities, and reaching out to those heavily involved in the design process such as architects, landscape designers, engineers and many others. In recognising that the planning profession is multi-disciplinary covering an ever increasing range of technical specialisms however, our programme of CPD events for the coming year will also seek to equip professionals with the skills and confidence to tackle the numerous challenges presented by the planning system and its role in supporting recovery from the Covid pandemic.

There is also a need to promote the benefits of membership of the RTPI to planners working in Local Government where there is a significant under-representation in the region. We are seeking to engage with Local Authorities to ensure that the profession is represented at a senior level and to continue championing the role of Chief Planning Officer as an executive role. We will also be launching a Local Authority Outreach Project aimed at breaking down barriers between the public and private sectors across the region to ensure that as professionals we are collectively pulling in the same direction and working towards the same objectives.

These are just some of the aims for the year ahead and there will undoubtedly be other challenges that present themselves along the way. I hope to see many of you (virtually and in person) over the course of the coming year at some of our events.

Mark Ketley BA (Hons), Dip TP, MRTPI
RTPI North East Chair 2022