Planning for the greater good

28 Nov 18 | Olivia Bostock

Following the conference, we have had an opportunity to reflect on the challenges we face as young planners today and in the future. This is something we feel can be summarised by two key implications; adaptability and responsibility.

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We recently attended the RTPI Young Planner’s Conference 2018, where the theme was ‘Celebrating Planning for the Greater Good’. The conference recognised the successes of planning, as well as reflecting upon where the profession may need to adapt to remain a resilient and imperative tool for developing for future generations.

Following the conference, we have had an opportunity to reflect on the challenges we face as young planners today and in the future. This is something we feel can be summarised by two key implications; adaptability and responsibility. We have a responsibility to shape development that supports future generations. Yet there should be an acknowledgement that there is no one-size fits all approach. In order to be responsible, we must also be adaptable, understanding the changing needs on a place by place, site by site basis. In adapting to each situation, we are better able to balance the needs and demands of our clients, against local and future needs.

Adaptability will be crucial; we live in an ever-changing political, social, and economic environment; all factors that greatly impact on the planning and development industry. In addition, our built environment functions differently from one town to the next. Localism has taken great steps in attempting to create an adaptable planning system, based on local needs and requirements; however, there are still overarching national policies that can negatively impact this. The green belt policy and new 5-year housing land supply calculation, are two strong examples of how nationally enforced policy can negatively impact development, enforcing restrictions in areas with genuine need.

We should not forget our responsibilities. Our task as planning practitioners, and our clients’ as development professionals, is to shape global development whilst accounting for future generations. And what better way to do this than to account for global issues such as climate change and the natural environment when exercising our professional judgment every day. We should never be satisfied with the bare minimum and justify developments which are not sustainable in the long term, rather we should use our professional stance to encourage our clients to invest in environmentally and socially-friendly developments.

We, as professionals in this field should ensure that sustainability is not just an empty expression written in a document but is truly achieved through the means of planning. The work undertaken by the Sustainable Development Commission and Iceni Projects, to create The Sustainable Development Scorecard, is a prime example of how planners are beginning to facilitate this, integrating sustainability within the lifecycle of their projects.

Olivia Bostock Assistant Planner,Planning
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