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West Midlands Futures

As part of the smart city-regions project, the RTPI is supporting the West Midlands Futures Project, an initiative of Futures Network West Midlands (FNWM), the West Midlands RTPI, Birmingham City University and the Centre of Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham.

Learning lessons, shaping the future

Running over two academic years, the Futures Project brings together students from Birmingham's two planning schools to consider the challenges and opportunities that the West Midlands will face over the coming years and how strategic planning could shape and respond to them.

Throughout the project, students will be able to draw on the region's extensive, practitioner experience in a programme of informal events and workshops. The first stages of the project are to distil the issues and lessons from previous decades and to take stock of the current situation, so that future thinking is built of firm foundations. In doing so, the students will leave a shared resource of their findings for the region's planners, looking both backwards and forwards.

Stage 1: A look back at strategic planning in the West Midlands

Working in small cross-university groups, the students have produced a series of short, accessible leaflets outlining their own findings on a particular decade of strategic, cross-boundary planning in the region. These can be downloaded below:

After completing this work, theĀ groups also presented their work to a panel comprised of Trudi Elliott, RTPI Chief Executive and Craig Jordan, Head of Economic Growth at Lichfield District Council and RTPI West Midlands Chair.

Expert panel sessions

Introductory session

Looking back

1. Planning for strategic employment sites - from strategy to delivery

2. Strategic planning for housing across boundaries

Taking stock

1. Strategic planning post regional spatial strategies

2. Current practices in cross-boundary strategic planning

Stage 2: A vision for the West Midlands - the challenges facing the region and the shape of a future planning system

Having looked at past experiences and current strategic, cross-boundary planning practice in the region, the culmination of the programme was a workshop session where the students considered the future. During this session the students worked in groups and collectively to sketch out a vision for the West Midlands, the major challanges facing the region and some of the characteristics that a future planning system should have.

The results of their collective work can be downloaded here

Other resources produced by the Futures Project will be posted here as they become available.

For more information you can get in touch with Sherman Wong, the Project Coordinator, at