John Craig - Chair's Welcome - January 2023
When I qualified as a Planner back in 1987, I didn’t imagine that I would end up being a Head of Planning in a major northern city nor that I would become the chair of the RTPI Yorkshire Region. But here I am, Head of Planning at Hull City Council and the Chair of RTPI Yorkshire for 2023. Before embarking on my year in office as chair of RTPI Yorkshire it’s fair to say that I did have some reservations about doing so, but I am now absolutely delighted and excited to be taking on this role. I am following in the footsteps of some excellent chairs who have all brought their own unique style and approach to the role and I hope to be able to carry on that fine work throughout 2023.
Previous chairs have written in their introductory letters about the difficult times that we have been living through and of course that is unfortunately still the case. We are perhaps still to feel the real consequences of Covid-19 and the impacts on our towns and cities and everyday life, and the ongoing cost of living and energy crisis look as if they are a long way off being resolved. We have a very recently revised draft of the National Planning Policy Framework which I’m sure many of you are considering at the moment and more substantial changes to the framework promised for next year. The present set of changes appear to go only so far in dealing with the pressures that the country is facing and in particular I believe the ‘levelling up’ does not appear as yet to have been effectively embedded in the planning system. But of course, we all have the opportunity to continue to shape the content and nature of this document and I would urge you to do so.
The planning system and the many planners that work within it both in the public and private sector have a clear role to play in supporting growth, ensuring that valued environments are protected, mitigating the impacts of climate change and coming up with local solutions to address the challenges that I refer to above. Without positive action, including working with colleagues in other professions such as public health, we run the risk of failing to make our mark. And it is with these thoughts in mind that I have committed to a general theme throughout the year (and hopefully creating a legacy beyond this period) to increasingly focus our attention on addressing growing levels of inequality in our communities – making sure that local people have a clear voice in planning matters and that their voice can lead to positive outcomes.
We have an absolutely fundamental role to play in this agenda – and at times I don’t think we quite get that. And if we don’t then others won’t. So, we need to be proud of our profession and we need to increasingly 'talk the talk’. Part and parcel of this for me is ensuring that we make planning a more attractive options for young people setting out in a career or deciding what course to study when they leave school. We all have a role to play in talking positively about the job that we do and I would encourage you all to do so – whether that is through playing a more active role with the RTPI - there are always volunteering opportunities available - or simply through discussions that you have with family and friends.
I’ll hopefully get to meet many of you throughout the year including at the many events and seminars that we will be running throughout the region.
All the very best
Chair of RTPI Yorkshire