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Insights from the National Planning Conference 2023

For two days in November, Birmingham has become a hub for discussions, insights, and innovative ideas in planning, thanks to the ongoing National Planning Conference 2023. Hosted by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), and Planning Portal this two-day event has drawn the attention of policymakers, planners, and experts from across the UK.

The Minister of State for Housing & Planning, Rachel MacLean, addressed the audience on the first day of the conference. "I am grateful to each and every one of you because I know this has been a challenging time," said MacLean, acknowledging the hurdles faced by planners during recent years.

MacLean continued to emphasise the importance of a long-term housing plan to drive economic recovery. She stressed the need to deliver “more homes, greener and safer homes, more beautiful homes. And most importantly the homes that communities tell us they want."

The Minister spoke of initiatives to support the planning profession, including a "planning skills delivery fund" and the formation of a "super squad of expert planners" and a new framework for Local Planning Authorities to ensure they’re delivering on their housing targets.

MacLean underscored the importance of bolstering the planning profession with increased resources and support for local planning departments to “bust” some of the backlogs in the planning system and get the right homes built in communities across the country.

The conference also featured discussions on the benefits of community engagement, different approaches to urban planning, and the valuable lessons learned. A panel discussion chaired by Simeon Shtebunaev, experts Amir Hussain, Immy Kaur, Clare Jones, and Nick Wright delved into the intricacies of community-centered urban development.

One message echoed throughout the National Planning Conference: the critical role of urban planning in shaping our future. As Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI, emphasised in the conference’s opening speech, "Now is the time for planning to rise up and take its rightful place in the heart of government, at the heart of local government, and at the heart of communities."

The conference will continue tomorrow for another half a day. Attendees can expect a range of exciting sessions, including a Chief Planners panel, young planners perspective, and planner story telling workshop and planning with politicians.

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