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The Planner's Women of Influence 2017

Words: The Planner
Women of influence

Chief execs, council leaders, top notch barristers - women are becoming increasingly influential across planning and the built environment professions. But who are they and what are they doing to shape the sector? Here's The Planner's Women of Influence, as suggested by you.

Who do you think are the most influential women in planning, both nationally and internationally, today? To mark International Women's Day in 2017, we want to add to the list you helped us compile in 2016.

We're looking for the women who work in or around planning who you would consider to be influential in some way. Perhaps they have inspired you as a role model; perhaps they have compiled a substantial body of work; perhaps they have worked on important projects; perhaps they have contributed to the planning debate, either through academic work, journalism or appearances at conferences and seminars; perhaps they have risen to important/influential positions; perhaps they have helped to shape planning policy or planning law; perhaps they work on national and international campaigns that are improving understanding of and access to the built environment.

We're particularly looking for:

  • more women from the legal sector
  • women from the media (writers and journalists have a considerable role to play in informing, persuading and cajoling)
  • more women from outside London and in the UK regions (including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • more women who are working and influencing approaches to planning internationally
  • more influential women working in private sector planning, particularly for the big consultancies
  • more women in politics, whether local, regional or national, who are influencing planning policy.

Send your suggestions:

  • Tweet us at  @ThePlanner_RTPI using the hashtag #ThePlanner_IWD
  • Email us at [email protected]
  • Then read our profiles, interviews, comment and guides for International Women's Day 2017.

Public sector

Including local authorities, central government bodies, other public bodies (incl development corporations and development agencies), politicians.

Deirdra Armsby – head of planning and physical regeneration, and Amanda Reid, head of development management, for the London Borough of Newham, overseeing substantial change in one of the most challenging boroughs in the country.

Joanna Averley – strategic manager, growth and development for Crossrail 2 at Transport for London. Former director at GVA, deputy chief executive of CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and interim chief executive for Centre for Cities.

Kim Boal - planning officer, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, chair of organising committee for 2016 young planners’ conference in Belfast, young planner lead on RTPI Northern Ireland committee. Kim shared her thoughts on leadership with The Planner.

Michèle Dix CBE – chief executive of Crossrail 2, formerly managing director of planning for Transport for London. Oversaw the introduction of congestion charging, led strategic thinking on London’s future transport needs, now charged with steering Crossrail 2 from drawing board to construction.

Pam Ewen – head of planning for Fife Council, former strategic head for the highly-regarded TAYplan, former convenor of the RTPI in Scotland, event speaker and specialist in working with communities. Pam told us how she would change the Scottish planning system.

Rachel Fisher –  Head of infrastructure (cities and local growth) at the DCLG, former head of policy for the National Housing Federation and an influential campaigner for affordable housing in England. We've spoken to Rachel about planning and the property industry.

Annie Hampson – chief planning officer for the City of London, with responsibility for all development, design, heritage, conservation and enforcement in the Square Mile.

Helen Hayes – Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, founder of Urban Practitioners, sits on the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee. High profile supporter of equality and continues to argue the case for a second EU referendum.  We interviewed Helen in 2015.

"Good planning ensures we meet our need for new homes and jobs in the short to medium term, while delivering really successful sustainable places for the long term" Helen Hayes



Kate Henderson – chief executive of the TCPA, contributor to the 2014 Independent Lyons Housing Review, among other policy panels, visiting professor at the Bartlett School, co-author of Rebuilding Britain: Planning for a better future. Kate has written for The Planner on how to transform planing to England's benefit.

Victoria Hills - chief executive of the Old Oak and Royal Park Development Corporation; former head of transport at the Greater London Authority, now leading the organisation that is overseeing one of the largest regeneration schemes in Europe.

Amy Lamé - a controversial choice? Amy is a comedian and broadcaster who was Mayor of Camden in 2010-11 and has been a vociferous advocate for London's night-time economy. She's now the Mayor of London's 'night tsar' charged with turning the capital into a successful 24-hour city. And that'll take some planning.

Dr Pauleen Lane CBE – group manager for infrastructure at the Planning Inspectorate (PINS); former Mayor of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council, civil engineer now guiding projects of national significance.

Monica Lennon – Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament for Central Scotland since 2016, chartered planner and RTPI member, with professional experience in both the public and private sectors. Monica wrote the editorial leader for our March 2016 edition on the gender pay gap in planning and how to close it.

Helen MacNamara - director general for housing and planning at the DCLG. Formerly at DCMS and principal private secretary to Tessa Jowell. Worked on the Olympic bid, now closely involved with housing strategy and local planning.

Adele Maher – strategic planning manager for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, leading policy, urban design and conservation in a challenging borough. Active RTPI member and regular speaker at events. Adele told us how she would change the English planning system.

Alice Lester MBE –  head of planning, transport and licensing at Brent Council; formerly (for 11 years) head of the Planning Advisory Service; awarded MBE for services to planning in 2016.

Fiona McCandless – chief planner for Northern Ireland, overseeing the transformation of planning in NI. We interviewed Fiona in 2014.

Iram Mohammed – major assets project manager for East Dunbartonshire Council. Former RTPI trustee and chair membership and ethics committee. Board director for Planning Aid Scotland, active organiser in built environment circles.

Alison Nimmo – chief executive of the Crown Estate and one of the UK’s foremost regeneration experts, responsible for delivering the Olympic Park. We interviewed Alison in 2015.

“Jacques Rogge opened the envelope and life would never be the same again. It was “an opportunity to create a whole new piece of city. You get that very, very few times in life” Alison Nimmo




Liz Peace – outspoken former chief executive of the British Property Federation, now non-exec director for a variety of planning and property consultancies, and trustee of Peabody, the London housing association.

Terry Prendergast – planning lecturer at the Dublin Institute of Technology, senior planner with the Grangegorman Development Agency, which has redeveloped the Grangegorman Campus; winner of the Irish Planning Institute’s President’s award in 2014.

Sarah Richards - chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate; formerly strategic director of regeneration, housing and resources at Slough Borough Council.

Anna Rose – director of planning and transport for Milton Keynes and vice-president of the Planning Officers Society, overseeing regeneration and innovative transport projects in Milton Keynes.

Lucy Seymour-Bowdery –  Lucy is the current young planner trusteee on the RTPI Board of Trustees, lead organiser of the 2015 young planners' conference and now a senior planning officer in policy and reform at the DCLG. Lucy is a regular contributor to The Planner and has written for us about how to make planning accessible to young people.

Fiona Simpson – assistant chief planner for the Scottish government, integral to the process of reforming the Scottish National Planning Framework.

Emma Williamson – assistant director of planning at the London Borough of Haringey.

Private sector

Sue Bridge former head of planning for Northampton, now an independent consultant and RTPI corporate trustee. Vast experience of private and public sector planning, and cited as an inspiration by other women in planning.

Sarah Cary head of sustainable places for British Land, responsible for corporate social and environmental reporting. Planning PhD and practitioner. Head of British Property Federation sustainability committee.

Ros Dunn independent consultant, chair of the South Kilburn Trust, former chief executive of the Thames Gateway London Partnership.

Emma Fletcher managing director of SmithsonHill, a a partnership of a landowner and developer focused on cutting edge agribusiness projects in Cambridge; former property director at Marshall Group, and former president of the Cambridge University Land Society. Engaged in the ongoing physical and economic development of Cambridge.

Zoe Green – manager, urbanisation and development for PwC, former RTPI young planner of the year, organiser of an annual World Town Planning Day debate in London, regular contributor to the Global Urbanist and The Planner, and mentor to planning students.

"In London and other big cities where there’s a lot of pressure on smaller creatives who, given the rising rents, are slowly being pushed out planners play an important role in safeguarding space, open space, affordable workspace, making sure that you’re having balanced communities” Zoe Green

Liane Hartley – independent consultant with Mend London and founder of Urbanistas, the influential women in property network. Liane is also behind Planning in the Pub and has written for The Planner.

Cristina Howick – partner with Peter Brett Associates and an economist before turing to planning. Opinionated and with much to say about local planning, particularly the need for a standardized method for calculating housing need, an alternative to the Local Plans Expert Group method. Cristina wrote about the 2017 housing white paper for us.

Dale Ingram - founder of Planning for Pubs, consultant to the licensed leisure and historic building sectors, former pub protection officer for the Campaign for Real Ale.

Emma Lancaster – RTPI young planner of the year for 2016-17, an associate at Quod in Leeds and chair of RTPI Yorkshire. Emma shared her thoughts on a variety of planning issues with us.

Liz Loughran – founder of Line Planning, former legal adviser to Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London.

Sandra Manson – director of planning for WYG in Newcastle, formerly a vital cog in building the successful Signet Planning. An RTPI ambassador who works in schools inspiring the next generation of planners. Sandra told The Planner about her own journey from admin assistant to planning director.

Lesley Martin – independent consultant and former strategy and economy manager for Edinburgh. Specialises in strategic planning and economic development, with a leaning towards inclusivity.

Alexandra Notayindependent property consultant working across the public and private sectors, sits on the World Economic Forum’s Building Retrofit Steering Board and the UK Green Property Alliance.

Janet O'Neill – founder of O’Neill Associates, RTPI president in 2008 and external examiner for planning schools.  

Holly Porter – founder of Chicks with Bricks, the network for women in the construction industries; founding director of Surface to Air architectural practice.

Catriona Riddell – director of Catriona Riddell Associates, speaker, columnist, former director of planning for the South East of England Regional Assembly; specialisms include ‘open source planning’ and LEPs. Catriona has written for us about the need for planning decisions to reflect the true cost of development.

Ann Skippersindependent planning consultant and former president of the RTPI, neighbourhood plan examiner and specialist in neighbourhood planning and training; regular contributor to conferences and events and a planning trustee for the Theatres Trust.

Corinne Swain OBE – former director and head of planning at Arup, influential on the government’s Land Use Futures Foresight project, and current member of the Mayor of London's Outer London Commission. Now holds an Arup Fellowship at University of Birmingham focusing on knowledge sharing and research.

Sue Willcox – a director at Quod, she also sits on Mayor’s Outer London Commission and is a committee member of the British Property Federation; she has contributed to government reviews of planning.

Wei Yang – founder and managing director of Wei Yang & Partners and co-chair of the UK China Eco Cities and Green Building Group. Heavily involved in masterplanning low carbon projects in the UK and China. Engaged with the RTPI and other built environment bodies. Wei Yang offered us her thoughts on career building in planning.

“Don’t be afraid to show your ambition, as it is important for people to be aware of what you are striving for professionally. But be very patient, and do even the simplest jobs properly" Wei Yang




Third sector

Including charities, membership bodies, think tanks, advisory bodies, networking groups.

Nicola Barclay – chief executive of Homes for Scotland, active member of the Association of Women in Property, former head of planning at Scottish Futures Trust, the Scottish government’s infrastructure agency. Nicola has written for The Planner about helping to build homes in vulnerable communities in India.

Irene Beautyman – planning for place programme manager at the University of Dundee’s Improvement Service. Board chair for Planning Aid Scotland; corporate member of RTPI Scottish executive committee. Advocate of community planning.

Petra Biberbach – chief executive of Planning Aid for Scotland and member of Scottish planning review panel.

Louise Brooke-Smithformer president of RICS (Royal institute of Chartered Surveyors), the first women to be appointed to the role; founder of Brooke Smith Planning, former vice chair of the National Planning Forum; regular speaker at planning and property conferences, advocate for the advancement of women in property. We interviewed Louise in April 2016.

“The reason that things are going quicker now is down to pure commerce, as there is a clear business case for having a diverse workforce that brings different experiences to their work.” Louise Brooke-Smith


Clementine Cecil – director at Save Britain’s Heritage and former Russia correspondent for The Times, instrumental in saving a portion of Smithfied Market from being turned into an office block.

Hannah David – co-founder of the independent Planning Futures planning think-tank, national director of the Conservative Policy Forum and former Conservative Parliamentary candidate. Hannah has written for us about the need for better consultation in planning.

Trudi Elliott – chief executive of the RTPI, former director of the Government Office for the West Midlands, and a major contributor to an overhaul of national planning guidance. We interviewed Trudi for our December 2016 issue.

Marion Frederiksen – the RTPI’s international policy and research officer is a powerful advocate for planning and sustainability internationally. A supporter of the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, she wrote for The Planner in the build-up to Habitat III.

Ghislaine Halpenny director of engagement for the British Property Federation, formerly head of head of public affairs and continues to oversee the organisation’s planning policy work. Ghislaine has written for The Planner.

Sarah James – senior development officer at Civic Voice, the national charity for the civic movement in England. Supporter of community rights available through Localism Act and helping communities create community action plans.

Alexandra Jones – chief executive of the Centre for Cities, senior adviser to the City Growth Commission, regular columnist for a variety of built environment publications. Alexandra has written for The Planner about how planning policy can help to stem the UK's brain drain.

Melanie Leechchief executive of the British Property Federation; former director of communications for the Cabinet Office and head of broadcasting policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; previously also director general of the Food and Drink Federation, she now helms the trade body for the property sector. We interviewed Melanie in 2015.

"I start from the position of being an optimist and thinking that planning is part of the solution, not part of the problem" Trudi Elliott





Charlotte Morphet – co-founder of the Women in Planning network, former chair of RTPI London and former RTPI trustee.

Sara Parkinson – programme director, planning and development, London First. Key in lobbying GLA on behalf of planning and engaging government on emerging planning policy; former RTPI trustee.

Victoria Pinoncély - the RTPI's research officer specialises in issues around health and wellbeing and is an increasingly prominent voice in publications and at events. Victoria writes regularly for The Planner and contributed a piece on gender equality and planning for International Women's Day 2017.

Jackie Sadek – chief executive of UK Regeneration, longstanding columnist on regeneration and property matters for Estates Gazette, policy adviser to the minister for cities.

Rebecca Sudworth – director of strategy and communications at Peabody, former deputy director of HM Treasury.

Lisa Taylor – director of Future of London , the independent think tank focusing on regeneration, housing and economic development. With a masters in sustainable urbanism, Lisa leads on leadership and diversity programmes  and launched the Diversity Speakers' Network for London, as she explained to The Planner.

Roisin Willmott – the RTPI's director for Wales and Northern Ireland is an integral, and influential, figure in planning in both nations as each undergoes planning reform.


Dr Rachel Aldred - senior lecturer in transport at the University of Westminster, and a former sociology lecturer, she is a leading thinker and writer on cycling infrastructure, cycle safety and the behaviour of cyclists within transport systems.

Janet Askew -  2015 RTPI president, in which role she advocated positive planning as far afield as Canada and China. Formerly head of planning at the University of the West of England, Janet has influecned generations of students. Now an independent consultant, she is also UK representative on European Council of Spatial Planners and a member of the Sustainable Development Commission. Janet has written for The Planner.

“If only we could get that message out to the wider press, and to government, that in fact most people want planning and want to be involved in a planned town and a planned neighbourhood” Janet Askew


Professor Clara Greed –  emerita professor of inclusive urban planning at the University of the West of England. Perhaps best known for her research into public toilet provision, but also a specialist on the relationship between religion and urban structure. Oft-cited as an inspiration to other women in planning.

Patsy Healey OBE – professor emeritus in town and country planning at the University of Newcastle, past President of the Association of European Schools of Planning, respected writer and thinker, particularly on collaborative planning and urban governance.

Dr Janice Morphet – visiting professor at the Bartlett School and a respected thinker and writer on infrastructure planning, spatial planning, planning after devolution and the potential impacts of Brexit. We'll be interviewing Janice for our May 2017 issue.

Professor Yvonne Rydin - chair of planning environment and public policy at the Bartlett School, specialist in governing for urban sustainability and particularly urban energy.

Professor Cecilia Wong - professor of spatial planning at the University of Manchester. Influential researcher for government and other bodies, on everything from the Northern Powerhouse to sustainable development in China. Director of Centre for Urban Policy Studies, co-editor of Town Planning Review, co-author of Lyons Housing Review.


Jan Bessell strategic planning adviser, at partner level, for Pinsent Masons. Member of RTPI General Assembly and policy and practice committee. Considerable experience of examining and advising on nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Mary Cook – barrister, co-founder of Town Legal LLP and co-organiser of the Joint Planning Law Conference in Oxford, specialist in large and complex projects, particularly housing, as well as niche developments in green belt and conservation areas.

Bernadette Hillman – lawyer and planner, partner at Shakespeare Martineau. Sits on RTPI General Assembly and its conduct and discipline panel. Bernadette has written for The Planner on the need for clarity in planning reform.

Meeta Kaur – solicitor and also a founding partner of 'boutique' firm Town Legal LLP after 12 years at King & Wood Mallesons. Specialist in large mixed use developments and urban extensions. Sits on RTPI General Assembly, Planning Aid England trustee, formerly RTPI judge in London Planning Awards. Meeta has written for The Planner about the founding of a a niche law firm.

"We are proud that Town is a majority female partnership, and take our diversity credentials seriously" Meeta Kaur






Susan Ring – partner at Harrison Grant. Environmental law specialist whose cases concern historic environment, village greens, pubs, nature conservation, local parks and environmental impact assessment; notably actedfor SAVE Britain's Heritage in a landmark case establishing that demolition of buildings can be subject to the the EIA Directive.

Rose Grogan – environmental, planning and public law specialist at 39 Essex Chambers; regarded as one of the country’s most promising junior barristers. Rose has written for The Planner.

Martha Grekos – head of planning at Howard Kennedy. She specialises in promoting redevelopment projects that are politically sensitive and involve large and complex environmental impact assessments, including Crossrail 2, Elephant and Castle, Heathrow, Hinkley Point C and the ‘walkie talkie’; recent board member of WTS London (Advancing Women in Transportation). Martha has written for The Planner.


Martina Lees – property correspondent for The Sunday Times, award-winner for work around the housing crisis.

Laura Mark – digital editor at Architects’ Journal.

Francesca Perry – founder of the Thinking City blog, commissioning and community editor for Guardian Cities, co-steer of the Young Urbanist Network for the Academy of Urbanism. We spoke to Francesca about her work.

“Cities can continue to grow unsustainably – be planned around cars, exacerbate social segregation and sprawl uncontrollably – or truly commit to a more inclusive, sustainable, efficient form of urbanism" Francesca Perry




Christine Auclair  – project leader, World Urban Campaign at UN-Habitat. The World Urban Campaign promotes sustainable urbanisation worldwide and Christine was a central figure in the preparation and presentation of last year’s Habitat III conference.

Eugénie Birch – professor of urban research at the Penn Institute for Urban Research, co-chair of the steering committee for the World Urban Campaign and a major organisaing presence at third UN-Habitat conference last year. Eugénie is one of the key figures in urban planning worldwide. We interviewed her in 2015.

"No country has grown its GDP without urbanising first, and we know that 60 to 70 per cent of the world's GDP comes from cities" Eugénie Birch





Dyan Currie – director of planning and environment at the City of Gold Coast, Australia, which is preparing to hold the 2018 Commonwealth Games, past president of the Planning Institute of Australia and current president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners.

Anna Geppert – professor of urban and regional planning, University Paris-Sorbonne; president of AESOP, the Association of European Schools of Planning.

Dominique Lancrenon – secretary general of the European Council of Spatial Planners and director of land management for AnteaGroup.

Eleanor Mohammed – president of the Canadian Institute of Planners, in which role she had the creation of a new strategic plan and the reorganisation of committee structure, and director of planning and engineering for Beaumont, Alberta.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk – influential American architect, town planner and academic, co-founder of Miami-based 'new urbanism' firm DPZ Partners LLP, leader in the New Urbanism movement and author of Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream.

Christine Platt – past president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, past president of the South African Planning Institute and chaired the group that produced the UN-Habitat urban planning guidelines.

Carol Rhea – past president and current board member of the American Planning Association, and partner with Orion Planning and Design in Hunstsville, Alabama; strong advocate for 'livable communities'.

Janette Sadik-Khan – former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, in which role she delivered transformative projects including the pedestrianisation of Times Square; now Transportation Principal at Bloomberg Associates and author of StreetFight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution. The Guardian has recently run an interview with Sadik-Khan.

Galiena Tachieva – partner and director of planning at DPZ Partners LLP, leader in the Congress for the New Urbanism and author of the Sprawl Repair Manual which focuses on the retrofitting of auto-centric suburban places into complete, walkable communities.

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford – co-convenor of the Caribbean Planners Association, chief exec of the Belize-based C.Trench Sandiford and Associates, recognised as a UN global evaluation expert.

Prof Vanessa Watson – professor of city planning in the school of architecture, planning and geomatics at the University of Cape Town, and lead consultant for UN-Habitat’s 2009 Global Report on Planning Sustainable Cities.

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