Planning Summer School to build on shared experience

Volunteering at this year's event offers a chance to support its valuable learning ethos, says Neil Pearce.

My first experience of the Planning Summer School (PSS) was in the prestigious and historic setting of St Andrews last year. At the 75th anniversary event I was not only impressed by the speakers' depth of knowledge and understanding but also by their ability to impart this to their audience.

For me, the summer school was not just about sitting in a lecture theatre. It was about the opportunity to meet like-minded planners, share experiences and swap stories in a relaxed and friendly environment. It was about making friends, bumping into old acquaintances and furthering my knowledge and understanding of the pressures facing our profession and the best ways of tackling them.

This ethos of sharing and learning from our experiences is being showcased this year in Exeter at the Planning Academy, which replaces the Planners' School 2 as the PSS's final four-day segment. The academy format will offer the opportunity for a more focused, themed workshop approach to learning, with lectures, fieldwork and increased delegate participation and mentoring.

Exeter 2009, therefore, promises to be as rewarding as ever. The programme includes the usual elected members and planning schools as well as study tours, gala dinners, entertainment and the infamous bar quiz the Exeter Challenge.

Last year, much of the credit for my enjoyable experience was down to the dedication of the summer school volunteers in making the event run efficiently and smoothly, despite obstacles such as power cuts being thrown in their way.

It was for this reason that I decided to put myself up for election by my fellow delegates to join the 30-strong summer school committee and support future events. Membership can also be granted through nomination by the RTPI.

Starting at Exeter, this will be a new and challenging experience for me, which I am eagerly anticipating. So come and join me, either as a delegate or by putting yourself forward as a volunteer. I look forward to seeing you in September.

Neil Pearce is senior planning officer (north) at Wychavon District Council and a director of Avon Planning Services. The Planning Summer School will take place from 4 to 16 September at the University of Exeter. In September, the RTPI will appoint five members to the committee to serve a three-year term, starting in October. To apply, please contact James Taylor on 020 7929 8172 or email Nomination forms must be returned by 26 June.

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