Planners need to hold fast to creativity and a core vision

Candidate for RTPI junior vice-president Ann Skippers reveals why she wants to stand up for the profession.

News just in. Spatial planning is exciting and mind-boggling. What an amazing time - we're getting used to a new system, more reforms are on the horizon and we must embrace the climate change agenda.

What inspired you to be a planner? For me it was the excitement of peeping through my neighbour's hedge and watching them build a house. The buzz of creating places hasn't left me. The world of planning has become complicated, but we mustn't lose the creativity and vision at its core.

Ironically, the RTPI seems more respected by those outside it than by its members. Internationally, it exerts influence on a global scale, but more emphasis on sustainable development, climate change, urban poverty and urbanisation is needed.

The institute has undergone significant internal reform over the past few years and is now better placed to develop and challenge thinking about planning. But it still needs to evolve and I will drive forward a programme of change that involves you more.

The RTPI should expand its role influencing political thinking and developing ideas. These should be founded on robust research that connects theory with practice and draws on innovative practice from around the country.

It should give you the information and tools you need. This means enhancing member support through networks, the website and regions to offer the services you really want. I am committed to making the institute more relevant to your needs.

Looking to the future, it is vital that we get positive ideas about planning into the media, not least to persuade young people that it is a rewarding and worthwhile career. I will fight hard to raise the image of planning and planners.

This is a huge challenge, but it can be achieved. The RTPI should be at the heart of the debate, standing up for planners, leading on key issues.

I am passionate about planning and what the RTPI can do. My enthusiasm is shown by my involvement at regional and national levels. I worked in local government in development control and policy before becoming a consultant. Please support me in driving forward change where the institute takes centre stage, leads debate and stands up for positive planning.

Ann Skippers is a director of Charisma Spatial Planning. The other junior vice-presidential candidate Richard Summers will deliver his statement in next week's RTPI News.

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