Young Planners strike a balance at event

RTPI London hosted the biggest Young Planners' Conference to date with 300 delegates attending the two-day event in October.

The event was launched by shadow planning minister Roberta Blackman-Woods. Stuart Robinson, head of planning at CBRE, who hosted the launch, celebrated young planners' enthusiasm in delivering solutions.

The main event opened with a session covering the assessment of professional competence process and submission, the career support services available from the institute and employment guidance for planners. The first plenary session focused on localism and growth. Steve Quartermain, chief planner at the Department for Communities and Local Government, provided an overview of reforms and noted that the power shift to PINS within the Growth and Infrastructure Bill was no threat to localism, urging positivity.

Leonie Oliva from Drivers Jonas Deloitte summarised how growth is being delivered post-NPPF alongside the Localism Bill. Liz Peace CBE of the BPF used a "stagnation to growth" barometer to argue that while the localism agenda could lead to stagnation, the NPPF will more likely deliver growth.

The following plenary session looked at how planners can deliver mixed and balanced communities. Trudi Elliott, RTPI chief executive, described the challenges facing planners and the benefits of being a chartered town planner. Kate Henderson (TCPA) provided an examination of the Garden Cities movement as one solution to the housing crisis. Discussions around retail planning from Tony Thomas (WYG) and good design from Rob Evans (Argent) provided interesting examples on key planning issues.

A series of workshops covered a variety of topics. A plenary session covering Lessons from London followed with Sir Edward Lister (Deputy Mayor for London) considering challenges for the capital. Steve Shaw (Olympic Delivery Authority) reawakened the cheer of London 2012 with a presentation on the Olympics and the legacy. Simon Bevan (Southwark Council) spoke around neighbourhood planning in a global context, while Peter Murray (New London Architecture) looked at the infrastructure required to design a global city.

Friday night brought an evening soiree at the Strand Palace Hotel, with excellent speeches from Kevin Murray (Kevin Murray Associates) and Chris Young (No 5 Chambers).

The Saturday session opened with a question: as planners do we consider ourselves to be designers? A Pecha Kucha followed featuring RTPI president Colin Haylock, Peter Hetherington (The Guardian), Professor Matthew Carmona (UCL) and Nikola Miller (RTPI Young Planner of the Year). It was argued that good design delivers valuable places. The session closed with many feeling inspired - or maybe that was We Built This City ringing around the room. Study tours followed, including a tour of the BBC Television Centre and East London's infrastructure.

The conference emphasised how by sharing knowledge and promoting our work when we do things well, young planners can boost the image of the profession, achieve balanced decision-making and create sustainable, high-quality places.

A sincere thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and delegates. For more details, see or visit the RTPI London Calling Blog.

Andrew Dorrian is a planner in TfL's Borough Planning Team, a member of RTPI London's Regional Management Board and is on the London Young Planners Committee.

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