Wales Planning Conference 2012: Delivering Locally
This year's Wales Planning Conference Wales Planning Conference attracted record numbers of delegates, and judging by the numbers staying until the end, the programme did not disappoint.
The Conference was held just a few weeks after local authority elections in Wales and at an important time for planning in Wales with a review taking place of the planning system as we look forward to the first Planning Bill for Wales, as well as increased activity in bring forward Local Development Plans, and so the 2012 Conference theme focused on delivering planning locally and the importance of local decision making.
The Conference was launched with a social networking event sponsored by GVA the evening before, where RTPI President, Colin Haylock, presented the Wales Planning Leaders Award to Rhian Kyte of Caerphilly County Borough Council.
Welsh Government Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, (neu ddarllen yma yn Gymraeg) John Griffiths AM, addressed the Conference updating delegates on the Governments programme and emphasising the Governments commitment to delivery. The Minister advised that the revisions to Chapter 7 of Planning Policy Wales relating to national economic policy following the consultation earlier in the year would be published in the autumn. He also encouraged the urgent adoption of Local Development Plans by Local Planning Authorities in Wales and that these were essential for delivering for communities and the long term.
The Minister referred to the various studies underway at the moment, including the work of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on Planning Reform, and that the Government would be consulting on the outcomes from these in the autumn.
Other plenary speakers included Tim Gent of Savills, who highlighted that we should never under estimate the value of planning permission and the benefits of projects and John Davies, Chair of the IAG who discussed the various issues which had been raised in their investigation into the planning system in Wales. Some of the initial thoughts put forward by the Review reflected that some of the factors currently constraining development are outside the planning system and that some of the assertions of non-delivery may in fact relate to unrealistic expectations of a land use planning system; the system is essentially sound. Davies warned that reform of the planning system is not, in itself, a cure for all ills but it has great potential to create opportunities and protect scarce resources for our future well-being.
The Conference programme continued with breakout seminars, covering:
The afternoon included a debate between environmental and economic priorities in the planning system which should carry more weight? Delegates on the day following the debate felt it was the environment.
A new addition to the programme was a series of speed briefings seven minutes to brief the Conference on a project. This went down well with the delegates who heard from Porth Teigr in Cardiff Bay, Gurnos Town Centre Regeneration, the Wales Coast Path, and a toolkit for environmental masterplanning for windfarm projects, amongst others.
In conclusion, RTPI Chief Executive, Trudi Elliott, highlighted the important role planning and planners can make and the need for us to step up the plate and lead.
The Conference, sponsored by Savills, JBP Associates and Civitas Law, with support from the Design Commission for Wales, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Welsh Government, proved to be a real success with the delegates, many pointing to the buzz around the venue.
Mark the date in your diary for the next Wales Planning Conference in 2013 on 4th and 5th June in Cardiff.