Lindsey Richards was inaugurated as President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) on Wednesday, January 24, marking the beginning of her tenure as the Institute’s 110th president.
After a long career as a planner in the public sector, Richards joined Homes England where she served as Head of Planning and Head of Profession. She served as the Vice President of the RTPI in 2023, before becoming the President in 2024.
The newly inaugurated president unveiled her vision for the year ahead, encapsulated in the theme "Planning Our Future". She emphasised the need to make planning a focal point in discussions surrounding the built environment, climate change, safer streets, and green spaces. She stressed the importance of increasing awareness and understanding of planning outside the profession, particularly among young people.
Richards stated that "Planning Our Future" aligns with the concerns of the younger generation, who are acutely aware of climate change and environmental challenges. Richards emphasised the need to connect the planning profession's role to addressing these critical issues and called on planners to become influencers.
In her inauguration speech, Richards acknowledged the challenges facing the planning profession in 2024, emphasising the upcoming general election where planning and housing supply are expected to be key policy issues. Richards addressed the reduction of resources in local authority planning departments, unprecedented levels of vacant posts, skills shortages, and a shift of experienced professionals from the public to the private sector.
In her address, Richards referred to the "It Takes Planners &" campaign launched by the RTPI in the previous year, which aims to combat misinformation about planning and counteract the rising anti-planning sentiment fuelled by social media and negative media coverage.
Lindsey Richards, President of the RTPI in 2024, said: “My focus for the coming year is simply summed up as ‘Planning our Future’. This is about ensuring planning is at the forefront in conversations such as the built environment, climate change, safer streets and green spaces; ensuring the remit of planning is understood outside of the profession, fuelling curiosity with the subject and ensuring a pipeline of planners coming into the profession and also into the Institute as Members.”