This year's Spring Conference held in Llandudno discussed planning for economic renewal and the role planning can play in delivering economic prosperity in Wales.
The Conference, sponsored by DPP LLP, was chaired by RTPI President Richard Summers, who said that planning and planners play an important role in delivering economic growth and have a positive approach to economic renewal.
RTPI Cymru's Chair, Anna Prescott, introduced the Conference and highlighted that economic growth does not just bring jobs and spending, but also important contributions to public finances and generate local economic growth. She stressed that planning can play an important role in delivering economic growth, but it was important to note that planning cannot do everything.
To set the context, Neil Ashbridge, Bank of England, Agent for Wales, explained monetary policy in the UK, including the role of the Bank of England, and the wider impacts on economic performance. Gareth Hooper of DPP's Cardiff Office then provided a perspective from the developer viewpoint.
Turning to policy issues, Bryn Richards, Department for the Economy & Transport, Welsh Assembly Government, outlined the latest position of the Economic Renewal Programme. Neil Hemington of the Planning Division of the Assembly Government, then delved into more detail on the planning aspects of the Assembly's actions to deliver sustainable economic renewal. He highlighted the initial findings from the current study into national economic development planning policy. Taking the policy to the local level, Nicola Gulley, Spatial Development Manager at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, discussed their approach to economic development policies in their LDP, focusing on the methodology for developing the evidence base to support the policy.
In the afternoon, the conference heard from three different case studies. Firstly, Owain Wyn of Burum, presented on using Land Map as a tool for assisting economic development, renewal and regeneration, using a case study from the Llŷn Landscape Partnership. Shelagh McNerney from DPP Shape then talked about her experiences of the work taking place to regenerate the north Wales coastline, focusing on Colwyn Bay and Rhyl; two very different places. Jonathan Cawley of West Coast Energy, concluded the presentations with an illustration of how the new green jobs sector can contribute to local economic renewal and also the value of investing in sustainable buildings to support business investment decisions, illustrated by the Company's decision to invest in a BREEAM Excellent HQ.