Young planner to take lead in Wales

Before she becomes RTPI Cymru chairwoman, Lucie Taylor explains why she will embrace the inclusive themes of sport, culture and heritage next year.

I will be proud to become chairwoman of RTPI Cymru on 4 December and reach great heights in the planning profession. But it means that I will no longer be able to organise events for young planners in Wales. I have greatly enjoyed taking this fulfilling role and will be sad to let go of the reins. But I am confident that Young Planners Cymru (YPC) will be in capable hands.

I started organising quiz nights in 2004 at Planning Aid Wales (PAW). On leaving the organisation, I began organising events for young planners in south Wales on topics such as access statements and climate change. I arranged quiz nights in association with PAW and a walking tour of Swansea's SA1 area. These seem to pale in comparison with the programme of forthcoming events that the YPC steering group has planned that, I am proud to say, is very exciting indeed.

Over the past year, we have developed an enthusiastic and skilled steering group without much persuasion and I feel sure that we will be inundated with further candidates in December. In Wales, the planning profession is gaining in popularity and finally achieving the status it so rightly deserves. I am happy to witness the rise in numbers of young practitioners.

Looking ahead, my chosen theme for the year is embracing culture, heritage and sport. I believe that the planning system in Wales has an important role to play in encouraging communities to get involved with the promotion of physical activity. Where we build and more importantly the way in which we build can increase levels of walking and cycling as well as other valuable physical activities.

We can surely realise our goals of increasing physical activity more frequently by using a little effort and imagination when setting out residential, employment, retail and sports developments. It is vital that planners play an active role in encouraging the construction of quality open and public spaces and in improving levels of access to the countryside.

Since the Welsh Assembly Government adopted its TAN16 on sport, recreation and open space in January, planners in Wales have recognised that our environment is critical to achieving an active, healthy and inclusive Wales. Our open space functions as a platform that is critical to improving participation in sport.

The TAN sets out the duty of the planning system in Wales to make provision for sport and recreation facilities along with informal open spaces, as well as protecting existing facilities and open spaces in urban and rural areas in Wales. When I launch the theme of my year as chairwoman on 4 December, RTPI Cymru will host a seminar at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff on the topic of planning for sport and enhancing communities.

Every local planning authority in Wales is working hard to produce a local development plan for its area. Even though some authorities are nearing examination stage, a fair number are in the early stages of ingesting the types of policies that could potentially be included in their plan for their area. I believe that the time is just right to raise awareness of the key issue of physical activity.

Lucie Taylor is a planning policy liaison officer at Newport City Council. She is currently Young Planners Cymru events manager and the RTPI Cymru management board's senior vice-chairwoman.


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