Wales Planning Conference will have a local flavour

This year's event will focus on the importance of local decision-making, says Roisin Willmott.

Wales has started its first journey into primary legislation - at least in recent history - and this involves discussions about what is sustainable development and how the planning system in Wales should operate.

These are just some of the issues that will be discussed at this year's Wales Planning Conference, sponsored by Savills, Civitas Law and JBP Associates. The event will take place on 30 May, just a few weeks after local government elections in Wales.

Local development plan activity is also of interest. Reflecting this, the conference theme is focused on delivering planning locally and the importance of local decision-making.

RTPI Cymru is pleased to welcome Wales' environment and sustainable development minister John Griffiths to provide the keynote speech. In the morning, delegates will also hear Tim Gent of Savills discuss the benefits that local projects can bring. John Davies, chair of the independent advisory group into the Planning Bill, will reveal the key issues raised from the evidence the group has collected.

The programme will include breakout seminars covering a wide range of subjects: decision-making in the planning process; the role of local planning authority members; place uniqueness and local characterisation; consultation and engagement; engagement with local communities in waste projects; the Community Infrastructure Levy; the National Infrastructure Investment Plan; transport; and Sustaining a Living Wales, the green paper on natural resource management.

After lunch, this year's plenary debate will examine whether the environmental and economic strands of sustainable development can be achieved side by side on projects.

There will also be a series of speed briefings in the afternoon to pack in more areas of interest. These will cover the Wales Coast Path; Porth Teigr, which won the Wales Planning Award 2011; the Gurnos Town Centre Regeneration scheme, which was highly commended in the awards; and the RSPB's work on masterplanning for wind farms.

The conference is aimed at those involved directly and indirectly with planning in Wales, as well as those interested in planning in the nation. The event attracts a mix of those working in the public, private and third sectors. In addition to planners, the conference is attended by people from related professions such as architects and surveyors. Students and those new to the profession are also encouraged to attend. The variety of attendees enables positive debate and discussion - a vital part of the event's aims.

Networking is an important part of any conference programme, and so there will be a social networking event - sponsored by GVA - the evening before.

Roisin Willmott is national director for RTPI Cymru. The conference will be held at City Hall in Cardiff. For further details on the event, please visit

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