Built environment sector 'needs to better reflect diverse communities'

The 'huge mismatch' between the ethnic diversity of the UK population and their representation in the built environment sector could cause resistance to new development, the National Planning Summit has been told.

Priya Shah of BAME in Property (left) and Charlotte Morphet of Women in Planning speaking at yesterday's National Planning Summit. Pic: Gilian Macinnes, Twitter
Priya Shah of BAME in Property (left) and Charlotte Morphet of Women in Planning speaking at yesterday's National Planning Summit. Pic: Gilian Macinnes, Twitter

Speaking at the conference yesterday, Priya Shah, founder of BAME in Property, said that, according to government data released in 2017, 14 per cent of the UK population is from a BAME (black and minority ethic) background. This rose to 41 per cent in London.

But she said that 2016 figures showed that just 1.2 per cent of the built environment sector was from a BAME background.

Shah said that this was leaving groups within society unheard and unrepresented, which could cause problems for the planning system.

"If we don’t get planning policy right [for diverse communities] there can be more resistance to planning and development," she said.

Shah also pointed out that there was a sound business argument for greater diversity in the workplace.

She said that, according to research, companies that are more diverse at the executive boardroom level "outperform their competitors by 33 per cent, and so it’s not just about looking at diversity from a moral perspective, it makes financial sense".

Speaking at the same session, Charlotte Morphet, principal policy planner at the London Borough of Waltham Forest and co-founder of the Women in Planning network, said diversity can help with innovation, with a broader range of people providing a greater "diversity of thought and experience".

In November last year, the RTPI issued a public pledge, to be followed up by an 'action plan', to increase the diversity of its membership in line with the communities they serve.

In March, research found that less than one in five of the leadership roles at planning consultancies across the UK are occupied by women.

The research closely correlated to Planning's investigation of female representation at planning consultancies, published last November.


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