Leading lights chase transatlantic reward

Your votes will decide who will be Young Planner of the Year 2004 and win a trip to the American Planning Association's national conference, writes Bryan Johnston.

Planning consultant Andy Clarke is convinced that the next few years will be critical for professional planners and urban designers as they buckle down to the task of delivering better places.

Clarke trained at the University of Nottingham and University College London before joining Taylor Young four years ago. He led the team behind a masterplan for Uttoxeter in Staffordshire and has contributed to the firm's work on Didsbury Point in Manchester and the St Helens cultural quarter.

Clarke was promoted to senior urban designer in 2002 and was integral in setting up Taylor Young's Liverpool office last year. While recognising communication and management skills as vital, getting plans and design frameworks implemented is what makes him tick. "It is up to us all, and particularly younger members, to create a legacy for the future," he insists.

Gordon Daly is showing strong leadership and management skills in the challenging post of senior executive planner at Clare County Council, where he runs a development control unit fielding 3,000 applications a year.

Daly studied at the University of Gloucestershire, the Dublin Institute of Technology and Queen's University Belfast, graduating in 1997. He worked for Kerry and Limerick County Councils before securing his present post two years ago. Since then he has improved processes in the unit and introduced a register of wastewater treatment consultants.

For the past ten years Daly has spent much of his spare time helping community development and heritage projects in his home village of Tuamgraney.

Planning is for people, he emphasises: "This is the all-important fourth dimension. While it is clear what planning is, sometimes we lose sight of who it is for."

Anthony Northcote, shortlisted for the second year running, is determined to bring planning closer to the heart of corporate policy in his latest role as development policy manager at West Lindsey District Council.

Northcote secured his planning qualifications studying part time at Sheffield Hallam University while moving up the ranks at West Lindsey. Reflecting his concern with the profession's recruitment and retention crisis, he is the youngest member of the RTPI's university partnership panel and chairs its University of Westminster partnership board.

Northcote is developing closer links between the council's community strategy and its local development framework, and is co-ordinating its merged planning and strategic housing policy function following restructuring this year. "I hope to carry on as an ambassador for positive planning and to bring about real change for the West Lindsey community," he says.

Over the past four years Pamela O'Donnell has sought to use her experience of mainstream practice to help a deprived Belfast community engage more fully with the planning and regeneration process.

After training at Queen's University Belfast, O'Donnell joined the Northern Ireland Planning Service in 1996 and worked in forward planning and development control before moving on secondment to the West Belfast Partnership Board in 2000. In that role she offers advice, promotes stakeholder consultation and champions her area in the policy-making sphere.

As the service's youngest principal planning officer, O'Donnell has succeeded in mainstreaming the idea of community planning and her approach is being replicated city-wide. She is keen to promote planning as a career option for young people. "Planning is an exciting and creative profession as it shapes how people live," she reflects.

Charles Uzzell's career record over the nine years since he completed his studies at Oxford Brookes University demonstrates that ambitious young planners do not need to turn to the private sector to reach their goals.

Uzzell built up his experience at Northavon, South Gloucestershire and North Wiltshire District Councils, rising to local plan team leader before being appointed business manager for planning and environment at Mendip District Council in March this year. His responsibilities cover development and building control, environmental health, licensing, waste, street cleaning and ground maintenance.

As one of only four members of Mendip's corporate management team, Uzzell is determined to foster a business-minded approach in his department.

He believes that planners need to be more outward looking. "Let's engage with people by providing high-quality services and use this to promote the substantial contribution planners make to our lives," he urges.

- Young Planner of the Year 2004 is sponsored by Kings Chambers. Candidate profiles and voting instructions can be viewed via www.rtpi.org.uk/about-the-rtpi/awards/youngplanner.

- This award, sponsored by Kings Chambers, is intended to seek out and acclaim the brightest younger planners in the profession. The judges have selected a shortlist of five candidates from those nominated this autumn. Now is your chance to vote for who you think should be Young Planner of the Year 2004.


Any member, associate or student member of the RTPI, no matter how recent or how old, has one vote. The poll closes at 5pm on Friday, 7 January 2005.


You are recommended to vote online through the RTPI website at www.rtpi.org.uk/about-the-rtpi/awards/youngplanner. You will need to enter your membership number, which appears on the label for your copy of Planning, to register your vote.

The website explains how to vote. You will have only one opportunity to vote for your preferred candidate.


Alternatively, complete this form and either fax it to the RTPI on 020 7929 8199 or post to Young Planner of the Year 2004, RTPI, 41 Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL to arrive by Friday, 7 January 2005.

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