The 2015 Wales Planning Conference, held on 20th May at City Hall, Cardiff, had record numbers attending from across Wales and beyond.
The theme for the conference, this year generously headlined sponsored by Savills, Remarkable Engagement and Francis Taylor Building, included looking closely at the changes the Planning (Wales) Bill will bring and the pressing challenges across a range of key issues that the current system is dealing with. The Conference examined key questions relating to local government reorganisation and what City Region devolution might mean for Wales.
Fundamental to all this change was the question at the heart of this year's event: "What does a future planner look like?" Whilst the focus of the Conference was on planning practice in Wales, speakers also looked beyond these boundaries to identify other lessons the planning system and planners need to learn to be resilient in a rapidly changing world. Importantly the Conference discussed how to deliver positive outcomes – going back to the origins of the profession.
The Conference was opened by the Conference Chair, Chris Potts, Savills who welcomed Carl Sargeant AM, Minister for Natural Resources. The Minister spread the good news that the Planning (Wales) Bill had passed Stage 4 the day before and now awaits Royal Assent.
Mark Harris, Chair of RTPI Cymru welcomed delegates to the Conference and quoted Tom Campbell "For the sake of our cities, it's time to make town planning cool again."
The morning session heard from Tony Thickett Director of the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, who discussed the future of planning in Wales from a PINS viewpoint. Kevin Murray, building on work by work undertaken in conjunction with Vincent Goodstadt, discussed who leads planning, inspiring delegates to look at the purpose of planning.
The morning session continued with a series of breakout seminars; short precis of some seminars are available:
Following lunch we heard from a panel of young designers - Ian Carter - Newport City Homes, Victoria Coombs - Loyn & Co, Jen Heal - Design Commission for Wales and Nial Maxwell - Rural Office for Architecture - on their perspectives on how planning and design practice should respond to a changing world, facilitated by Carole-Anne Davies of the Design Commission for Wales.
It was then time for the ever-popular speed briefing session - time to hear short presentations on projects - this year all recognised by the Wales Planning Award in 2014.
We gave the [almost] last word of the Conference to Tom Watson and Willow Mercer from Young Planners Cymru to give their perspectives of planning for a changing world.
The final word of course went to our Conference chair, Chris Potts.
You can view the photos from the Conference on the RTPI Cymru Flickr site and to see the twitter chatter from the day see storify.
Listen to the podcast with Meyric Lewis, Barrister Taylor Francis Building here.
Listen to the podcast with Tony Thickett, Director of Planning Inspectorate Wales here.
The Wales Planning Conference 2015 was sponsored by Savills, Francis Taylor Building and Remarkable Engagement with support from the Design Commission for Wales, Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and Welsh Government.
Put the date in your diary for 2016 - 8 and 9 June 2016.