Take time out for learning at the Planning Summer School

Intensive knowledge sharing and relaxed networking aim to build professional insight, writes Kate Webster.

The Planning Summer School is more than an opportunity for high- quality continuing professional development, it is a major event in the profession's calendar.

Taking place this year at the University of Exeter, the summer school gives planners a chance to take a step back from day-to-day activities to learn, understand and appreciate the context in which planning operates. The schools cover a wide variety of topics through workshops, presentations and study tours that will engage delegates and send them back to work refreshed.

The elected members' school runs from 4 to 8 September, offering a reliable, cost-effective way to increase understanding of the planning process and changes to it. The school includes workshops on sustainable design, lessons learned from the local development framework system and how to get involved in pre-application talks, as well as a choice of study tours.

This year, there will be a strong focus on leadership in local government and delivering growth. The closing speech will be given by Local Government Association deputy chairman Richard Kemp.

The planners school from 8 to 12 September will focus on a tale of two cities, Bristol and Exeter. Delegates will also hear a Belfast case study on retail-led regeneration, with the chance to tour Exeter's West Quarter and Quayside areas.

For non-urban planners, later workshops will cover coastal regeneration and agricultural development. MP Matthew Taylor's session on the rural economy will be of particular interest. The international perspective will be covered by US planning consultant Mary Kay Peck, while a series of guests will give evening presentations.

This year's plenary debate on delivering growth in a difficult economic climate will give delegates the chance to discuss one of the issues at the top of the planning agenda. Speakers from Cambridgeshire Horizons, the Homes and Communities Agency and Swindon Borough Council will offer views.

RTPI president Martin Willey will also speak during the event, while University of Manchester professor of town planning Michael Hebbert will close the proceedings. During the intensive days of learning, discussion and knowledge sharing, there will also be time for networking, with a reception, a gala dinner and the traditional quiz.

Kate Webster is RTPI marketing officer. For more information or to book a place, please visit www.planningsummerschool.org

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