The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has announced the appointment of Mark Hand as the Director of Wales, Northern Ireland, and Planning Aid England.
Hand, who is currently Head of Service for the Physical Regeneration, Highways, Flooding, Planning and Building Control services at Monmouthshire County Council, brings over 20 years of experience working in the public sector in Wales as well as 7 years of experience with the planning system in Northern Ireland.
In his current role as Head of Service at Monmouthshire County Council, Hand has responsibility for planning, building control, regeneration, highways, and flooding. In Northern Ireland, Hand worked with the Department for Infrastructure to review planning performance indicators, looking at best practices across the UK nations, and more recently has been working with Derry City and Strabane District Council to review the implications of the Northern Ireland Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee reports on the planning service.
In recent years, Hand has been Chair of the Planning Officers' Society Wales, an external examiner for Cardiff University's planning course, and sat on the RTPI's General Assembly. He previously worked at Newport City Council where he led the delivery of numerous large-scale regeneration projects. Hand will be taking up the position from Wales, where he currently resides with his partner, cat and dog.
Hand will replace Roisin Willmott, who is leaving the role to take up a new position of One Planet Manager at Cardiff Council, working on the Council’s net zero ambitions.
Willmott, who has been with the Institute since September 2007, started as National Director of Wales, extending to Northern Ireland in 2012, and then taking on responsibility for Planning Aid England in 2018. While working at the RTPI Willmott has helped influence national policies and built up the services offered to members in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Speaking on his appointment, Mark Hand said, "I am delighted to be appointed as RTPI Director of Wales, Northern Ireland and Planning Aid England. Roisin has done a fantastic job and I hope to build on her achievements.
“Planners have a central role to play in tackling the huge issues of the climate and nature emergencies, housing crisis and infrastructure delivery. This needs some brave decisions and collaborative working, drawing on the strengths and contributions of planners from all sectors. I look forward to working together with all built environment professionals throughout Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as supporting our vital network of Planning Aid England volunteers."
Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI said: “Mark’s impressive track record of delivering for the public sector comes at a critical time for the planning sector across Wales and Northern Ireland. We’re delighted that Mark is joining the team at this exciting time.”