Centenaries present springboard for ideas

The conference saw the launch of an essay competition seeking answers to future challenges, reveals Susannah Guest.

Hundredth birthdays are often times for looking back and reviewing highlights. In the case of the UK planning system, which celebrates its centenary in December, it is also a time to look forward.

The Housing and Town Planning Act 1909 formalised the town planning system as we know it today. The legislation also created the first housing and planning inspectors. To celebrate this anniversary, the Planning Inspectorate's Centenary Essay Competition was launched at the Young Planners' Conference.

We want to hear the views of the people who will be the custodians and leaders of the planning system during the next 100 years. We want to capture the talent of young planners in considering what the profession should be doing in response to the huge challenges facing us such as a globalised economy and climate change. We want people to reflect on our past achievements and what lead planning should give over the next two decades to shape the world we live in.

This is an unrivalled opportunity to have your views heard by the inspectorate and senior figures in planning. The prestigious judging panel comprises next year's RTPI president Ann Skippers, DCLG chief planner Steve Quartermain, Planning editor Huw Morris, RTPI Young Planner of the Year Tracey Haskins and former RTPI Young Planner of the Year Susannah Guest.

The judges will look favourably on positive rather than critical pieces. We are looking for creativity and original thought. Papers should be written in an easily accessible style. While essays have a 2,000 word limit, if you can answer the questions in just 100 or 1,000 words then still please enter. We would like to receive entries from across all different sectors. Entries must be received by 29 January 2010.

Susannah Guest is a senior planning officer at PINS. For more information on the competition, please visit www.planning-inspectorate.gov.uk

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