Convention to focus on role planning plays in Big Society

This year's event will focus on the current transformation of the planning system, says Mike Hayes.

At a vital time for spatial planning, professionals will not want to miss the Royal Town Planning Institute's 2011 Planning Convention: Planning in the Big Society? The event, which will take place in London on 14-15 June, will address the current transformational planning agenda head on.

By June, it will be clearer how the Localism Bill is set to change spatial planning in England and how these changes will affect the way planning interacts with the devolved nations. The two packed days of the convention will focus on the bill and the philosophy that lies behind it, set against the context of the Government's Big Society agenda. It will ask how planning will work in the Big Society and what sort of planning the Big Society needs.

While the bill may dominate the debate, the convention will also cover topics such as rebalancing the economy, planning and paying for big infrastructure, the drive to increase renewable energy and planning for climate change.

Dynamic plenary sessions will offer different viewpoints, with a panel of expert and provocative speakers scrutinising the topic and involving delegates in lively question-and-answer sessions. Among the themes of these sessions will be planning in the Big Society, carbon reduction and neighbourhood planning. Senior Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) officials and ministers will be taking part and this year's innovation will be rapid presentations on localism in action.

Confirmed speakers include environmental activist Robert Bullard, head of environmental justice resource at Clark Atlanta University, and Dr Paula Ridley, chair of community organisation Civic Voice, while Kelvin MacDonald, director of planning consultancy Spatial Effects, will ask whether neighbourhood planning can deliver.

Offering up to 12 hours of continuing professional development, the convention will also provide a series of interactive workshops. There will be institute and DCLG surgeries, opportunities to engage with exhibitors and a networking reception. We aim for maximum value and prices have been reduced from last year: the delegate rate for RTPI members is just £339 + VAT, with lower rates for both students and licentiates.

Mike Hayes is secretary to the National Planning Forum. Book your place now at

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