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Young planners shaping the urban agenda at Gdansk conference

This news story has been written by Jeffrey Ng, RTPI Young Planners Trustee, and Principal Planning Officer at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.


A group of young planners from the UK and Ireland, including Jeffrey Ng, who is the Young Planners Trustee of the RTPI, Oliver Norman, Rob Wellburn and Michelle Ball were selected by the European Council of Town Planners (ECTP-CEU) to participate in the “Transforming Cities – Shaping Development Policies” international conference, which was held in November 2023 in Gdansk, Poland.

The conference was jointly hosted by the City of Gdansk, Gdańsk University of Technology, and the Society of Polish Town Planners, with support from the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) and the ECTP-CEU. Janet Askew, who is the President of the ECTP-CEU and the Trustee of the RTPI and Richard Blyth, Head of Policy Practice and Research at the RTPI, also attended the conference, while Janet was one of the speakers.

The conference featured several key discussion topics including shaping the current urban agenda, transformation of traffic-dominated urban spaces, redevelopment of urban brownfield sites, and shaping the transit-oriented development spines of cities. Speakers were from several countries and regions around the world, including Poland, the UK, Italy, Turkey, India, and Hong Kong.

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The Gdańsk University of Technology was one of the joint hosts

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The conference was hosted in the City of Gdansk

Some case studies in the UK were presented at the conference on urban transformation from Bristol Docks in Bristol to Blackhorse Lane and Tower Hamlets in London. Other case studies focussed on heritage town centre regeneration like Windsor Yard in Windsor, and transit-oriented development like Clonburris in Dublin.

Jeffrey Ng, who is Principal Planning Officer at the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead shared his experience of the Windsor Yards Regeneration Project at the conference. He described how after the closure of Fenwick in 2017, which is one of the oldest department stores in the UK, Windsor Yards Shopping Centre was let out as smaller units under short-term contracts, including being used as a COVID vaccination centre in Windsor during the Pandemic. It remained vacant since then.


“It was my honour to be selected again by the ECTP-CEU to attend the conference. I am honoured to represent the Royal Borough to share the experience we have in this key town centre regeneration project. As Young Planners Trustee of the RTPI I am keen to promote ECTP-CEU to our young planners. During the conference, I met other young planners in the Europe, helped promote young planners’ development and shared our experience with other European planners.

In 2022, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council (RBWM) received a full planning application for a regeneration development including the introduction of a new office building, a new apart-hotel building, and an additional one storey to the existing Travelodge Windsor Hotel. The project also includes improvement works of the existing residential units at Windsor Yards and the multi-storey car park. To meet the needs of the local community, the project also includes a new cinema, and public realm improvement works along pedestrianised streets.

The project is challenging as it includes the heritage harm of the scale and massing of the new buildings to the significance and setting of the heritage assets, including Windsor Castle and Windsor Town Centre Conservation Area. The proposed scale of the office building is also contrary to the Royal Borough’s adopted Borough Local Plan related to building height.

Nevertheless, the project can support business and the tourist development of Windsor, including the introduction of a considerable amount of Grade-A office floor space to accommodate the flexible working style of the post-pandemic era. The new hotel accommodation and the extended Travelodge Hotel will accommodate around 20% of the total hotel room supply of Windsor. Furthermore, the proposal can also achieve a considerable carbon reduction and demonstrate a 100% net gain in biodiversity.

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Janet Askew President of the ECTP-CEU (third from right) and other delegates

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Jeffrey shared his experience of the Windsor Yards Regeneration Project

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