Youthful agendas

Your votes are needed to decide which of these five candidates emerges as RTPI Young Planner of the Year, Bryan Johnston explains.

Voting opens today to select the RTPI Young Planner of Year 2008, an award sponsored by the Planning Advisory Service. The winner, to be announced in February, will win expenses-paid trips to next year's American Planning Association national conference and the Planning Summer School.

Jamie Birtles has risen through the ranks to become consultant at Faber Maunsell's Manchester office since joining the firm in 2005. The University of Manchester graduate has worked on several land-use and transportation projects including Greater Manchester's successful transport innovation fund bid, on which he is involved in a consultation covering 2.4 million people.

As a Planning Aid volunteer, Birtles has participated in consultations on local development framework issues and options and a section 106 workshop. He is an active member of the RTPI North West regional activities committee and takes a lead role in the region's young planners' group. "I will continue to use my position as task group leader to promote the planning profession among young professionals," he pledges.

Gareth Bradford, who was promoted to senior planning officer at Devon County Council this spring, plays an active role in policy development and planning communities, growth points and major developments. He leads strategic infrastructure planning work and manages inputs to the frameworks from a range of stakeholders.

A Cardiff University planning postgraduate, Bradford also represents the council on external forums and leads its work on accessibility and health impact assessments. In a previous post, he appeared at hearings on the Sherford area action plan and the regional spatial strategy. "I want to motivate people to embrace the broader practice of spatial planning and challenge traditional ways of thinking and working," he explains.

Alex Codd was promoted to city planning manager at Hull City Council this summer, leading a team of 50 staff covering development control, planning policy, urban design, conservation and building control. He qualified as a planner through the distance learning route during his six years at the Environment Agency, where he worked at a national level on government policy and helped develop the agency's own approach to planning.

After joining Hull as strategic planning manager in 2006, Codd was drafted in to handle the council's response to severe flooding, securing approval for its exemplar strategic flood risk assessment. "I would promote the role that planning plays in delivering the health, environmental, economic, political and social agendas facing the public and private sectors," he promises.

Tracey Haskins was promoted to planning policy manager at Guildford Borough Council in 2006, four years after joining the authority. A University of Westminster planning graduate, she leads preparation of the local development framework for a mixed urban and rural area. In September, she ran a major forum to discuss the local implications of the South East Plan.

Haskins also has development control experience from posts at Guildford, Waverley and East Hampshire. She remains a voluntary participant in the Petersfield Tomorrow initiative, where she has helped prepare a market town health check and town design statement. "I enjoy planning and will promote it as an interesting and rewarding career through talks and mentoring," she asserts.

Charlotte Watkins had seven years' experience at planning consultancies and at North Wiltshire District Council before setting up LP Planning Consultants in Chippenham in 2006. The University of the West of England planning graduate acts as an agent helping clients to navigate the planning system. LP was named North Wiltshire New Business of the Year in 2007.

Watkins has experience in multidisciplinary team working, public relations, local government systems, finance and funding processes and dealing with charities and non-profit organisations. She has made numerous presentations on planning to schools and colleges and given talks to careers advisers. "My passion, enthusiasm and commitment to planning will encourage others to shout out about their profession," she hopes.

- For further details of the candidates and online voting instructions, please visit


Each chartered member, associate, technical, licentiate or student member of the RTPI has one vote. You will need to enter your RTPI membership number, which appears on the address label for your copy of Planning, to register your vote.

The poll closes at midday on Monday 5 January 2009.

- Online voting

You are recommended to vote online via the RTPI website. Voting instructions are available at

- Postal voting

Alternatively, complete this form and fax it to the RTPI on 020 7929 8197 or post it to arrive by 5 January 2009 to:

Young Planner of the Year Award, RTPI, 41 Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL.

Tick one box only

- Jamie Birtles

- Gareth Bradford

- Alex Codd

- Tracey Haskins

- Charlotte Watkins

Your surname: ... Initials: ... RTPI membership number ...

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