Faces for the future

The polls are open for readers to decide which of these five candidates is named RTPI Young Planner of the Year, Bryan Johnston explains.

Faces for the future: (l-r) John Wacher, Clodagh McGuirk, Tom Venables
Faces for the future: (l-r) John Wacher, Clodagh McGuirk, Tom Venables

Voting is now under way for the RTPI Young Planner of the Year 2009, sponsored by the Planning Advisory Service.

The winner, to be announced at the RTPI Planning Awards in February, will win expenses-paid trips to next year's American Planning Association national conference in New Orleans and the Planning Summer School in York.

Andrew Charles is a senior planner at the Welsh Assembly Government, where he leads policy on how the planning system can mitigate climate change and deliver sustainable buildings. The Cardiff University planning postgraduate is taking forward an innovative national policy response with associated technical guidance, research and training.

Charles began his career as a trainee on the National Graduate Development programme, working on the Ashford growth area in Kent. Since returning to Cardiff, he has been active in the RTPI young planners network in Wales.

"The institute's seven commitments offer an opportunity to engage young people and show the role that the profession can play on climate change. I am passionate about this challenge," he says.

Sara Eustace has gained broad experience with public and private sector clients in five years as a consultant with ESA, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners and DTZ, where she is now a senior planner in its planning, development and economics team. Her work focuses on London and the South East and involves town centres, regeneration, hotels and major housing and mixed-use schemes.

Eustace, who studied planning at University College Dublin, is an active member of the London Young Planners steering group and the RTPI London regional activities committee and organises monthly update events for DTZ staff. "The award provides an incomparable platform to encourage personal development through learning, networking and communicating," she says.

Clodagh McGuirk held posts with Cork County Council, Port of Leith Housing Association and Planning Aid North (PAN) before joining the London Borough of Haringey as a planning policy officer in January. She has led consultation on the borough's core strategy by setting up workshops and other events and is also working on its housing and health and well-being policies.

A Heriot-Watt University planning masters graduate, McGuirk helped produce regeneration and community engagement strategies in Edinburgh's Leith neighbourhod and developed a community-led action plan approach in her consultation work with PAN. "I would like to continue to promote planning as a positive and participatory career," she explains.

Tom Venables is an urban planner with project experience on commissions across the UK and abroad. A Cardiff University city and regional planning graduate, he has worked with Atkins and EDAW. Now an associate director at AECOM Design + Planning, his role is to project-manage multidisciplinary planning, urban design, masterplanning and regeneration teams for public and private sector clients.

As a member of RTPI London's management board, Venables has overhauled the regional newsletter and organises events. He aims to enhance the profession's image as creative, dynamic and vital. "Planners needs to state clearly that they are equipped with the skills, knowledge and drive to meet unprecedented social, economic and environmental challenges head on," he maintains.

John Wacher is lead officer for negotiating planning obligations at the London Borough of Islington, where he has responsibility for ensuring compliance, commissioning and financial management of moneys received. The role involves working with officers, members and external organisations, managing a team of section 106 officers and developing planning agreements policies.

Wacher's urban planning masters course at Oxford Brookes University was followed by two years at RPS Planning on large-scale schemes and development plan representations. A keen traveller, he has visited various planning bodies overseas. "I am keen to meet students considering career options and highlight planning's role in tackling the major issues of our time," he says.

For further details of the candidates and online voting instructions, please visit www.rtpi.org.uk


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 5pm on Monday 4 January 2010.


You are recommended to vote online via the RTPI website.

Voting instructions are available at www.rtpi.org.uk


Alternatively, complete this form and fax it to the RTPI on 020 7929
8197 or post it to arrive by 4 January 2010 to:
Young Planner of the Year Award,
RTPI, 41 Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL.
Tick one box only
- Andrew Charles
- Sara Eustace
- Clodagh McGuirk
- Tom Venables
- John Wacher
Your surname Initials
RTPI membership number

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