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06/03/2020

Women of Influence 2020

Words: The Planner
Women of Influence 2020 logo

Who are the women working in and around planning who are having an impact - both on individual planners, teams and organisations; and on planning policy and practice? Here's our Women of Influence for 2020

Every year for International Women's Day, we publish a list of planning's Women of Influence, as nominated by the readers of The Planner and assessed by a panel of judges that includes distinguished planners from across the UK. 

Crucially, the list is non-ranked, non-competitive list – our aim is not to tell you who we think the 'best' women in planning are; but to celebrate the impact of women on planning and planners. As such, some women are on the list because they've had a significant influence on national planning policy; others because they've inspired the planners who work with them. You can read about the judging process below.

We don't have a fixed number of women on the list and this year's features 60 women whose nominations we felt met the criteria we were looking for, and who illustrate the breadth and depth of women who are having an impact on planning and planners across sectors and disciplines. Here's the 'at-a-glance' list - click on a category to read the entries in that section. Being non-ranked, the list is in alphabetical order, by sector.

Women of Influence 2020 at-a-glance

Click category name to read entries in that category

Academia

Dr Karen Horwood

Kim Hunt

International

Tess Broekmans

Kim Hardy

Law

Estelle Dehon

Morag Ellis QC

Elaine Farquharson-Black

Clare Fielding

Martha Grekos

Bernadette Hillman

Victoria Hutton

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Sarah Reid

Louise Samuel

Media and communications

Emma Drake

     

Private sector

Jill Bell MRTPI

Kim Cooper MRTPI

Beth Deltenre

Vicky Evans MRTPI

Emma Fletcher

Rebecca Ford MRTPI

Suzy Green 

Leona Hannify

Karen Jones

Tabitha Knowles

Taran Livingston

Fiona Milden

Katelyn Nagle

Dr Riette Oosthuizen MRTPI

Sara Parkinson MRTPI

Chris Pipe MRTPI

Kam Saini

Jennifer Smith MRTPI

Anna Snow

Jenny Taylor-Smith MRTPI

Diana Louise Thompson MRTPI

Joanna Ward

Sarah Young MRTPI

     

Public sector

Alison Bailey MRTPI

Irene Beautyman MRTPI

Heather Claridge MRTPI

Pamela Clifford 

Felicity Hart FRTPI

Deborah Hill 

Leigh Johnson

Lindsey Richards FRTPI

Victoria Robinson

Anna Rose MRTPI

Sarah Scannell MRTPI

Juliet Seymour

Louise Seymour MRTPI

Lucy Seymour-Bowdery MRTPI

Amanda Sutcliffe

Nissa Shahid MRTPI

Third sector

Eileen Conn

Victoria Hills MRTPI

Sarah James MRTPI

Sue Manns FRTPI

Priya Shah

 


Women of Influence 2020

Academia

Dr Karen Horwood

Senior Lecturer, Leeds Planning School, Leeds Beckett University

A geographer and planner, Karen has a particular interest in women and planning, and convened the Women and Planning in the UK conference in May 2019. She's also a committee member for the Women in Planning Yorkshire branch. 

Citation: "Dr Horwood has been at the forefront of putting women in planning back on the agenda for planning in professional and academic contexts. In Summer 2019 she hosted a pivotal conference in Leeds ‘Women and Planning’ that brought different generations of professional and academic planners together for the first time. This event has been instrumental in producing a wave of conversations, collaborations and research, which is shifting the context for planning careers, practice and policy."

Citation: "At the conference, it was clear to see Karen is inspiration and huge support to her students - who came out in force to support her in delivering the event."

Kim Hunt

Kim Hunt, course manager of town planning apprenticeships at Chichester College, West Sussex

Citation: "She has been instrumental in setting up the Town Planning Apprenticeships Course with consultations from local planning authorities, county councils and private sector planning consultancies. Over the past four years, there have been 71 students on the course who have been working in the planning profession and studying on day release from their place of work. Students attending the Chichester course come from far and wide, including Suffolk, Ipswich, Blackpool, London and Derbyshire.  When Kim heard of a similar course in 2018 which had 16 students unable to complete their course in Suffolk and Moulton Colleges, she took on their students as well as her own so they could complete their planning apprenticeship course. In total 41 students have passed the course already with a 95% pass rate. The qualification has enabled them to go onto to higher level Town Planning Degrees, work in the property industry and most importantly increase the number of planners in the workplace. She always has the student’s goals and training in the planning profession at heart." 

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International

Tess Broekmans

Partner and urban designer, Urhahn Urban Design and Strategy, Amsterdam

Citation: "Tess is one of the most passionate persons when it comes to urbanism.   ver the last two years, not only has she beenn involved in a significant number of projects, with both small scale and large scale impact in the Netherlands, but she has also been shaping the new generation of urban designers and planners of the country. Tess  is an inspiring lecturer and teacher at the Academy of Architecture in Amsterdam, organizes the urban curriculum at the professional traineeship for graduated master students,  and she is a partner and mentor for the young designers in Urhahn | Urban Design & Strategy office. From the moment she starts talking about one of the projects, you immediately dive into it, because she is a genuine storyteller, always searching for the spark and potential in every project and location. With her hands-on approach and by genuinely looking, by asking, and by listening, she is able to get the best out of a project and to find long-term answers that fit the current and historic identity of a location."

Kim Hardy

Group director - environment, New Zealand, AECOM

Citation: "Kim has 30 years of planning experience which she uses to positively influence planning outcomes, and she actively shares this wealth of experience. She provides strong strategic and technical leadership and encourages collaboration between professionals. Kim has been the planning lead on a number of complex and nationally significant infrastructure projects [...] Kim is a well-respected expert planning witness at council and environment court hearings, including for community groups in cases involving substantial urban shopping mall and tower block residential developments. She is also an independent hearing commissioner and chairperson for councils across New Zealand, chairings hearing panels and making decisions on significant planning applications that are changing the urban and environmental landscape and impacting communities across the country [...]  Kim is an excellent communicator and public speaker and has spoken at the 2018 Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Conference in San Diego California. Kim is passionate about planning leadership and encourages planners to take up the opportunities presented to them on a daily basis to lead and influence positive team, project and community outcomes." 

^ Return to at-a-glance list


Law


Estelle Dehon

Barrister, Cornerstone Barristers

Citation: "Estelle has played a lead role in numerous important planning and environmental cases, setting important precedents that will lead to lasting environmental protection. She often represents individuals and communities up against difficult odds and well-funded opponents, and her record of success is impressive. She has developed a particular expertise in climate change, with a hand in many of the most important cases relating to fossil fuel development, including fracking and coal mining. She also has made her mark in many other areas, including winning a recent appeal to ensure that the impacts of factory farming are adequately assessed. She is a determined and tenacious advocate, but always good-natured."

Citation: "She is a colleague to whom I often turn for help, advice and discussion but beyond that her work in the anti-fracking and environmental sphere in recent times has been hugely inspiring (and effective!). She is a powerhouse."

Morag Ellis QC

Barrister, Francis Taylor Building

Citation: "There are four female silks at the planning bar and Morag is the most senior of them (she took silk in 2006). She is the immediate past chairman of PEBA (the Planning and Environmental Bar Association) and retains strong links to the Planning Inspectorate and the Chief Planner for England at CLG. Morag has a longstanding and strong association with the Church of England and in 2019 was appointed as the QC Church Commissioner (and trustee) helping to manage an investment fund for one of the country’s major owners of strategic land. Morag is Chambers’ Equality & Diversity Officer and is championing a number of new initiatives for members of Chambers and also for young aspiring barristers. Her planning practice is diverse – she appears at inquiries, in the courts and provides strategic advice to developers and local authorities. She is active in a wide range of s.78 appeals in England and Wales for developers, the Mayor of London and local authorities on schemes involving housing (including specialist housing: care, student, retirement), minerals, ancient woodland, SANG, heritage, viability, ‘dark kitchen’ food delivery premises and enforcement. Morag is extremely influential in Wales. She has a really strong practice there and is widely regarded as the silk of choice for all things planning and environmental. She is in demand as a public speaker sharing platforms with some of the most respected in the profession including recently the Welsh Chief Planner, Neil Hemington, the outgoing Chief Planner in England Steve Quartermain and former Permanent Secretary at DCLG, Lord Kerslake amongst others. Along with her role as QC Church Commissioner, Morag is appointed as the Commissary General of the Diocese Canterbury and Deputy Chancellor of the Diocese of Southwark. She is a member of the Archbishop’s Panel of Clergy Disciple Chairs, a member of the Legal Advisory Commission to the General Synod and a member of the Rules Committee of General Synod. She is also a lay member of the RTPI Disciplinary Appeals Panel."

Elaine Farquharson-Black

Partner in planning team, Brodies LLP

Citation: "I have known Elaine as lawyer specialising in planning law for 25 years. She a has a real commitment to using the law in a creative and effective way to facilitate planning and place making for people."

Citation: "As a leading Scottish SME Housebuilder we have worked extensively with Elaine over many years, as she brings vast town planning expertise, policy knowledge and experience to our very often complex mixed use residential led developments. The close working relationships Elaine has established across the sector with statutory bodies, local authorities and key stakeholders has ensured that the delivery of our developments have been efficiently and more effectively advanced during the early stages of securing support and detailed permissions, etc."


Clare Fielding

Founding partner and solicitor, Town Legal

Citation: "Clare is one of the founding partners at Town Legal, and has now been acting as Battersea Power Station's lead planning lawyer for over 10 years. Clare has also been a valuable member of MHCLG's community infrastructure levy working group, that advised on the 2019 amendment regulations which provided the most comprehensive overhaul of the regulations since they first came into effect. She is a much sought after speaker at conferences and other events. Clare is also a strong advocate on LGBT issues and has regularly presented at diversity events. She has led over the last two years to her increasingly acting as a mentor to LGBT aspiring lawyers who have approached her following those events. Despite Clare's involvement in high profile projects and being sought after as a speaker and for her legal expertise, Clare remains above all down to earth, approachable, kind and a hugely supportive colleague and is much loved by her entire team."


Martha Grekos

Director and barrister, Martha Grekos Legal Consultancy

Citation: "In the last two years, Martha has been an inspiration by being a young professional who has actively engaged in participation in the planning and built environment, as well as successfully leading high profile and complex projects during uncertain and volatile times in the planning and development industry."

Citation: "Martha is a champion for determination and willpower. She relishes complex projects where she can make a real difference, which really sets herself out from her peers. She sees solutions where others see problems but crucially she fosters a real spirit of collaboration throughout the team which allows people to mobilise around her towards a common goal."

Citation: "[Martha] empowers other females to advance in their careers as well as contribute to charities. She set up her own all female planning team before setting up her own company. She is a volunteer at Advocate - which gives pro bono legal advice and supports apprenticeships into architecture and law. She is also a mentor for the organisations Women in Property and Newnham Associates."


Bernadette Hillman LARTPI

Senior planning counsel, Asserson

Citation: "Prima facie the UK planning system exists to regulate and enable development and change of use land and buildings. However, it has also has formidable economic effects on the supply side of homes and buildings provision. As such it is increasingly governed by detailed and important planning law. Bernadette's overview and grasp of these extended areas of planning is extensive and comprehensive."

Citation: "Bernadette is the RTPI's Honorary Secretary and Solicitor, and has served as a legal member of the RTPI General Assembly since 2008. She is a member of the Law Society's Planning and Environmental Committee and was voted a Woman of Influence in The Planner for 2017 and 2018. She chaired the RTPI London Planning Law Update in November 2019 and produced a programme with more than 50% female speakers."

Victoria Hutton

Barrister, 39 Essex Chambers

Citation: "Victoria has had an extremely successful and significant planning practice. As well as acting as junior to a number of QC’s in chambers, she has also now appeared in her own right on a significant number of cases and has achieved consistent success. As result she has seen herself propelled into some significant cases which include appearing twice before the Court of Appeal as sole counsel (Binning Property Corp Limited v SSHCLG), and opposing the tunnelling of the A303 within and under the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

"Victoria is in demand from clients for the quality of her work, her hands on attitude and team working approach. She has done all of this whilst coming back from maternity leave and raising a young family. Victoria has become a mentor to other women barristers in chambers and is doing a lot of work on promoting diversity; managing parental leaves and return to work for barristers."

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC

Barrister, Francis Taylor Building

Citation: "Saira is one of only four female silks at the planning bar and the youngest planning practitioner to take silk (in 2014) at only 14 years’ call. She also has full rights of audience to practice in the High Court of Pakistan. Saira has a broad planning practice which entails a significant amount of advocacy in both the courts and at inquiries. Many of the cases she is instructed in attract a high level of attention from the media due to the significant public interest in them.

"She is the counsel of choice for Westminster City Council, for which she has advised and acted on many major developments over the past couple of years.
In particular she recently broke new ground in respect of the position of telephone kiosks in the streetscape and acted for Westminster in numerous attempts to change the use of pubs in the area and the government has now removed the PD rights to change pubs to residential. More widely, Saira is often invited to speak at events and recently at the Oxford Planning Conference."

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Barrister, Francis Taylor Building

Citation: "Suzanne Ornsby QC is one of only four female silks at the planning bar. She is a highly proficient public, planning and environmental lawyer with wide experience of acting for utilities, multinationals, planning authorities, action groups and individuals. Suzanne is regularly involved in statutory challenges and judicial reviews as well as promoting or opposing major proposals relating to water and electricity supply, minerals and waste, together with commercial and residential schemes including those affecting the built heritage. She has a busy inquiry practice acting for authorities and developers and a substantial practice in local development plans advising for numerous authorities and appearing for them at examination. 

"She also chairs Francis Taylor Building’s Planning Group and in this role she champions junior members by providing additional support and encouragement to them so they can build their practices as they wish. She is also chair of Chambers’ Pupillage Committee (appointed in September 2019) through which she is seeking to drive change to improve Chambers’ contribution to diversity and social mobility."


Sarah Reid

Barrister, Kings Chambers

Citation: "…a superb role model for others entering the profession and has been instrumental in establishing and promoting the group "Women in Planning". She is now an established member of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association."

Citation: "I have had the privilege of working with Sarah over the last two years. Her attention to detail is second to none and she always goes that extra mile, putting her head and shoulders above many of her fellow barristers."

Citation: "Sarah is considered to be a ‘silk in the making’. She is a formidable advocate and is described by experienced barristers as a “worthy opponent”. She regularly appears in planning inquiries and hearings, enforcement inquiries, local plan examinations, statutory challenges and judicial review proceedings. Her considerable expertise in planning is complemented by her highways law knowledge; she is assistant editor of the practitioner’s text the Encyclopaedia of Highway Law and Practice). She is exceptionally generous with her time and keen to support and mentor other women in planning, Sarah has been instrumental to the success of Women in Planning North West."

Louise Samuel

Partner, Town Legal

Citation: "Having trained at Linklaters and played a key role in its planning team for a number of years, Louise moved last year to Town Legal as partner. She is a hugely knowledgeable and an innovative thinker, as well as being a fantastic, energetic role model for more junior colleagues."

Citation: "In the last couple of years Louise has worked on some of the biggest projects in central London, such as 1 Undershaft (the city's tallest tower once constructed), Bloomberg's and Goldman Sach's HQ buildings, the Chiswick Curve and Finsbury Tower.

"While at Linklaters she was heavily involved in its global women's leadership programme and headed the planning practice there before moving to Town (the specialist planning law firm) in October 2019.

"Louise's practice is unrivalled in terms of major London skyline projects and she is the go to person for complex, high value, landmark development in central London. She sits on the City of London Law Society Planning Committee and is an active member of organisations such as the WPA, the CPA and London First."

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Media and communications

Emma Drake

Director and founder, Henbe Communications

Citation: "Emma has been very influential over the last two years and beyond. As a leading chartered, PR and communications professional she has been at the forefront of delivering successful campaigns communicating the marketing of new places, including Northstowe new town and North West Cambridge. She is a leading authority on the marketing of ‘place – I would go as far as saying unique in her knowledge of understanding delivering strategic campaigns for new places from concept, through the planning process and through to construction and occupation. She has successfully devised and led strategic campaigns on busting the myths of modular housing and raising the profile of modern methods of construction in the built environment. Last year she was a finalist at the CIPR awards for her work on Shaping Future Places and is a finalist in 2020 Chartered Institute of Marketing awards for best use of PR for busting the myths of modular house construction. She also contributed and wrote the chapter for the book Promoting Property published in 2019 on promoting large scale mixed use schemes."


A note about judging

This year we received 224 nominations for 123 different women. The quality of the nominations was extrmely high and we're very grateful to everyone who took the time to write such considered thoughts about colleagues, friends, professional connections and acquaintances. This is a genuinely crowdsourced selection of women who are having an impact on planning.

This year our six judges decided to assess the following criteria in the judging process:

- timeliness (we wanted to feel that nominees had had an impact in the last two years)

- five areas of influence: policy change, culture change in planning, communities, the new and developing generations of planners, the reputation of the profession

- the X-factor, because some people just stand out.

We also asked our judges to be mindful of location (it's far too easy to create a list that's focussed on key cities, such as London) and variety of sector (private sector, the public sector, the third sector, and so on).

Some citations gave us more information than others; nevertheless the citation remained at the core of our judgements. In some cases, nominations were made primarily for the voluntary work that someone had done outside of their regular job; nevertheless, we categorised them according to the sector in which they work.

Critically, this year's judges decided not to place a limit on the number of women on the list, but instead to operate to a cut-off score in their assessments. The list represents the women who, we felt, had met the criteria we considered to qualify them as Women of Influence. 

Our approach was not perfect. But we think our judges have helped us come up with a really good list of notable women, all of whom deserve recognition. Of course, we can argue about this all day, but there's always next year...

We'd like to thank our judges for giving up their time and offering their expertise (in alphabetical order, of course):  Irene Beautyman MRTPI (Planning for Place programme manager at Improvement Service, RTPI Scotland Convenor 2020); Kim Cooper MRTPI (senior town planner, Arup); Latisha Dhir MRTPI (senior consultant, Avison Young); Laura Edgar (news editor, The Planner); Mark Hand MRTPI (head of placemaking, Monmouthshire County Council); Simon Wicks (deputy editor, The Planner).

Two of our judges appear on the list; they had absolutely nothing to do with this decision, but are there entirely on merit as a result of receiving strong nominations.

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Private sector

Jill Bell MRTPI

Associate director at hgh Consulting and chair of Women in Planning North West

Citation: "Jill founded the North West branch of Women in Planning in 2017 and it has now grown into a very successful branch with a mailing list of over 350. She arranges regular and highly popular events, which last year included an all day conference, 'The NPPF: A year on' with speakers from MHCLG and the Planning Inspectorate, a public sector event, an International Women's Day event and a number of evening networking events. She also facilitated the setting up of the Liverpool WIP branch and helped to organise their inaugural event on biodiversity net gain. She is an Associate Director at hgh Consulting where, alongside leading on complex applications and appeals, and providing mentoring and support to more junior members of staff, she also represents hgh Consulting on the British Property Federation Diversity and Inclusion Champions Network. She juggles all this with raising a young family - an inspirational and brilliant role model for younger planners."

Kim Cooper MRTPI

Senior town planner, Arup; founder and chair of Ideas for Liverpool

In addition to the achievements  recounted below, Kim has just been named a Commissioner for the Liverpool City Region Town Centre Commission. She's also one of this year's Women of Influence judges - though she had no idea she would be on this list!

Citation: "Over the last 12 months Kim has gathered 80 young professionals from across Liverpool together to collaborate on developing ideas to improve our city. Kim founded Ideas for Liverpool to secure cross-discipline collaboration to generate new, fresh ideas to improve Liverpool and to establish a strong network of early career professionals across Liverpool and give them a voice within the city. I believe she’s achieved these aims, and more! Kim lobbied the chief executive of Liverpool City Council and the Mayor of Liverpool to gain their support for the project. Within Arup, Kim successfully secured funding from Arup University to help deliver the project and it's estimated that collectively the participants gifted to the city roughly £200,000 in consultancy fees. At the launch event, the chief executive was so impressed by the group that he invited us all to play a part in the developing City Plan. Kim is now coordinating with the city council to facilitate workshops giving young professionals true influence at a city scale. In addition, Kim has been named as a finalist for the Northern Power Women ‘One to Watch’ award."

Citation: "Kim is the youngest person to take on the role of RTPI Regional Chair in the North West, something which highlights her determination, commitment and passion for planning.  As chair, Kim is responsible for delivering the regional business plan and she is working to establish stronger links with North West universities and working with them to encourage the development of the town planning degree apprenticeship. Kim is also part of the team delivering the Local Planning Authority Champions project which focuses on strengthening the RTPI’s links with public sector planners. Kim has proven herself to be a strong advocate for the profession and a role model for others, showcasing that women can thrive in a male dominated profession. Myself and other colleagues regularly draw on Kim’s expertise and enthusiasm to inform and inspire our students through guest lectures and participation in client-based projects. She is always happy to help, and provides an excellent insight to our students on planning as an influential place-shaping profession."

Beth Deltenre

Senior environmental consultant, Arup

Citation: "Her experience has been developed on complex and environmentally sensitive major infrastructure projects, through which she proactively uses her role as an opportunity to continually seek better community outcomes whilst facilitating their delivery. Her colleagues acknowledge her as someone that works exceptionally hard to see beyond the perceived confines of a project and secure mitigation and enhancement through the planning process that holistically benefits the widest possible reach.

"Beth’s communication skills are highly sought after, she has an excellent knack of being approachable and communicating challenging EIA matters in a simple and succinct way, enabling planning officers and members of the public to understand the pertinent matters to a decision-making process.

"During 2019 Beth was instrumental in the development of a new hub of environmental and sustainability specialists in Birmingham, leading the formation of a new professional network after spotting a gap! The hub is now providing a forum for those in the field of environment and sustainability, including a large number of planners - a platform to network and grow their skills and knowledge."

Vicky Evans MRTPI

Associate director and UKIMEA residential business leader, Arup

Citation: "Based in Arup’s Nottingham office, Vicky is a passionate advocate for development in the East Midlands. She has held many influential planning roles in the built environment, housing, planning and infrastructure sector.

"Since 2018 she has been leading on a planning, delivery and masterplanning framework, influencing the design and development of land around the East Midlands Hub HS2 Station at Toton on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council and has also recently led the preparation of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Industrial Strategy.

Vicky has a keen interest in the development of better housing; she has recently led the production of Arup’s research on the potential future role of Modern Methods of Construction in the planning system. She has presented her findings to a number of forums, helping to challenge use of different methods of construction in the planning industry."

Emma Fletcher

Managing director, Smithsonhill

Citation: "Emma believes that it is her responsibility to use her knowledge and place in society to do the most good possible.

"She has been the lead project manager for Hill’s Foundation 200, which is gifting to local councils across the country self-contained homes for homeless people. In addition, she is chair of Swaffham Prior Community Land Trust, who are working to set up the first village-wide sustainable heating system in the country to take the village off oil, while combatting fuel poverty. The project has been closely watched by a number of government departments and agencies as a potential template for similar projects in rural areas across the country.  

"Emma is also a committed mentor to young women, spearheading the women’s network at Hill, driving forward a partnership event with Women in Construction in Cambridge and, in her spare time, she also sits on the board of Cambridge University Rugby Club mentoring players from the women’s team."

Citation: "She is currently leading on the AgriTech Park in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, which would deliver ground-breaking innovations to assist crop production and yield, minimising both input and cost, and reducing global food waste. This would be the first such project in the UK. She has been instrumental in fighting this across all departments and the Secretary of State, as it is an appeal decision that is awaited."

"She is in charge of a huge consultant team, mostly made up of men, so she is definitely knowledgeable, respected, professional and leading the pack to show women can be in such senior and influential positions."

Rebecca Ford MRTPI

Associate, Arup

Citation: "Following a period of maternity leave Rebecca has been seconded as the Development Consent Order (DCO) consultation manager for Heathrow Expansion. This is the largest ever public consultation for a single development, including distribution of 2.7 million leaflets to households covering all of West London and large swathes of the home counties. She has assembled and leads a team of professionals across several organisations in processing the feedback and coordinating the Heathrow responses across 34 topic areas. And she does that working three days per week

"As head of DCO Management for Heathrow expansion I have extensive experience of delivery of nationally significant infrastructure development. In my opinion there is no doubt that Rebecca is now a clear industry leader in managing the processing and reporting of consultation responses. I am so proud of her and glad to have her working alongside me in a key role to deliver planning consent for a hugely complex development of unprecedented scale and complexity."

Citation: "Rebecca has built expert knowledge and experience in planning for nationally significant infrastructure projects since the introduction of the consenting regime with the Planning Act 2008. Rebecca advises clients and leads teams in ‘having regard’ to consultation feedback, helping to ensure that the voices of communities and stakeholders are heard and have a real influence on infrastructure projects.

"Rebecca is passionate in supporting infrastructure providers to take into account feedback from their consultees to help achieve more acceptable projects for all.

"Rebecca has worked on several of the country’s most significant infrastructure projects including HS2 Phase 1, Hinkley Point C, Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme and is currently seconded into the Heathrow Expansion Project team as the DCO consultation manager.      

"As a working mum, Rebecca is an advocate of both ‘agile’ and flexible working, and believes organisations should support their staff in achieving the right work life balance."

Suzy Green 

Planner, Bidwells

Citation: "Suzy joined Bidwells in August 2017 following the completion of her planning masters at the University of Westminster. Although she has worked in planning for a relatively short period of time, she has made a big impact, particularly in promoting planning to young people and through the Women in Planning network.

"Suzi has been an active committee member of the South Midlands branch of Women in Planning since it launched in September 2018 and took over as chair of the branch in September 2019. She is always the first to encourage new members or welcome them into the network.

"In her spare time, Suzi visits local schools through a Milton Keynes based employment charity called Work Tree. Here she raises the profile of planning and encourages young people to enter the profession, alongside helping them to develop general employability skills in preparation for the world of work. She fully deserves this nomination given the number of people she has personally supported and encouraged through the complex world of planning."

Leona Hannify

Planning director, Iceni Projects

Citation: "As a director of the company, her influence spans over professional work, the direction of Iceni, and the planning and development profession at large. Her core focus of late has been on new settlements, particularly in terms of governance and delivery models, which has involved formulating a new approach to the economic and social value capture of strategic growth, working in partnership with a number of local authorities, MHCLG and Homes England.

"She was a key figure in arranging the inaugural Iceni International Women’s Day event, which attracted a stellar panel of speakers and guests. She also secured Iceni's membership into the '30% Club', and has been involved in the London Irish Town Planners Network since its inception.

"Leona is a great believer in positive change occurring through action as well as rhetoric. She is a skilled negotiator and influencer, is highly perceptive and empathetic, and has moved Iceni forward as a business, both through her professional portfolio of work and her mentoring and leadership of colleagues."

Citation: "A champion of how to prioritise your family and personal life, whilst being on top of your game professionally. She always encourages those around her to work flexibly  leads by example - even bringing her child on a site visit!"

Karen Jones

Group human resources director, Redrow Homes

Citation: "Karen has introduced into Redrow Homes a Womans Network that seeks to recruit, retain and promote women in the company.  She has set up a recruitment strategy that encourages more women applicants, and a mentoring programme to support the younger women once in the business.

"Karen has identified gender imbalance across many of the company's departments and is seeking positive initiatives to change this. It will take time to work through but she will have significant influence on how Redrow deals with gender issues and other inequalities."


Tabitha Knowles

Associate director, Lichfields

Citation: "Tabitha has demonstrated that aviation planning is an interesting and growing sector and not only the domain of men interested in plane spotting! Her outstanding knowledge and skills have resulted in her being made a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society."

Citation: "Tabitha is an aviation expert and town planner with extensive UK and international experience in airport growth strategy, planning and design. In 2019, Tabitha was elected as a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society - as a woman and also as the first town planner to reach this highest grade attainable in the society.

"Tabitha has professional qualifications in airport planning and town planning and advises extensively on the relationship between the planning framework and airport statutory and operational requirements. This includes in-depth knowledge of the aviation policy and regulatory framework (planning regime and aviation regime), understanding how airports operate and the infrastructure required, and the environmental and economic issues facing airports and related development.

"In doing this, she focuses particularly on demystifying these complex issues and communicating them in a way that everyone can understand. Tabitha also sits as an Aviation Strategy Expert Panellist, advising the Department for Transport on its emerging aviation strategy white paper."

Taran Livingston MRTPI

Director, LUC

Citation: "Taran is an industry expert in Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), having led countless projects assessing development plan documents for local planning authorities and the former regional planning bodies, as well as specifically for minerals and waste plan documents. Authorities and stakeholders frequently come to Taran for advice on such projects and she has also dedicated her time to providing guidance and training on such issues.

"Taran has also supported numerous students gain experience in the planning sector by organising internships at LUC, providing students invaluable knowledge, experience and understanding of planning, which will help to develop a high calibre of future planners.

"Taran is a brilliant people manager at LUC, and over the past two years she has frequently pushed me to develop essential skills and knowledge to excel in my career. She has encouraged me to actively take on more responsibility and use my skills to develop innovative methods to resolve problems. Taran provides comprehensive feedback, guidance and sincere praise when deserved, motivating me to go above and beyond and encouraging me to progress in my planning career.  

"Taran is an incredible role model to myself and others within our company and across the wider planning sector, and I aspire to be as successful in my career as her. She is undoubtably a woman of influence who ceaselessly works to enhance the planning sector and develop the future generation of planners."

Fiona Milden MRTPI

Strategic planning director, Bovis Homes

Citation: "Her role involves balancing the aspirations and requirements of landowners, agents, local planning authorities, consultees and other stakeholders with the commercial realities of delivering major residential schemes. With previous experience working with both a local authority and large private consultancy Fiona is well placed to understand and mediate competing pressures within the planning system. Having been told seven years ago on leaving consultancy that she wouldn’t like working for a developer, she is proud to facilitate sustainable development and positive placemaking through the delivery of affordable and market homes and associated infrastructure.     

"Fiona recently presented at a young planners panel event in the West Midlands, focusing on managing career change. She leads an internal team of planners and actively promotes Continued Professional Development within the wider strategic land team, which includes colleagues focused on land acquisition and development delivery, in order to share best practice."

Katelyn Nagle

Town planner, Arup

Citation: "Katelyn's former voluntary role as Liverpool Events Coordinator with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North West Young Planners Committee enabled Katelyn to engage and inspire students and young planners through a number of events hosted across Manchester and Merseyside and shows a clear dedication to the profession.  

"Katelyn continues to support aspiring planners through the Arup Dissertation Scheme, in which students from the University of Liverpool are selected to be mentored through the production of their dissertation. Katelyn is also responsible for mentoring her team’s university placement student at Arup Liverpool.

"Katelyn’s desire to implement real change can be seen through her voluntary role as the Arup Liverpool Office environmental and sustainability manager. Through this, she has organised beach clean-ups, improved office recycling initiatives and raised awareness of the ongoing climate emergency as well as opportunities for individuals to live more sustainably.

"Katelyn is also a facilitator with the young professional’s forum ‘Ideas for Liverpool’, which engages young professionals across Liverpool to develop schemes and ideas to improve the city in which they work and live.  As part of the decarbonisation theme, Katelyn’s group developed an idea for a climate emergency platform, seeking to engage people on an individual basis to affect behavioural change.  The next part of this forum aims to practically develop ideas into reality."

Dr Riette Oosthuizen MRTPI

Planning partner, HTA Design 

Citation: "Riette is a tirelessly committed planner who is not afraid of challenging convention, and bringing fresh thinking to the planning profession to shake it up where shaking up is needed! She runs HTA Design's small planning team, which she set up more than 10 years ago. She has single-handedly grown it from just a team of 1 – herself - to the team of 7 that it is today. The team’s excellence has been recognised by various institutions and the work of the team Riette leads arguably has huge and unprecedented influence in shaping the projects HTA work on, that in turn represent a substantial proportion of change and development happening around London as a whole. She persists in ensuring that the value of planning within a wider design-orientated organisation is not forgotten, and strives to ensure the contribution of planners is recognised by other disciplines. Riette also serves as an amazing female role model, not only to young planners in her team, but more widely to young women in other disciplines in the practice and beyond, and her personal style encourages those around her to grow in confidence to reach their full potential. Riette’s influence extends to policy and education as well. She frequently speaks on planning matters at industry events, conferences and round tables, is jointly responsible leading HTA’s Innovation Research programme, and is a member of the London Planning and Development Forum. She is a current member of the RIBA Planning advisory group and the RTPI Policy Practice and Research Committee. If the huge level of influence she has within the profession wasn’t enough, she has also channels wealth from the property industry into forces for good. She takes on epic cycle rides raising money for charity, raising over £4000 for the children’s charity Coram with her ride from Copenhagen to Berlin in 2018, and raising even more for charity with her cycle to MIPIM last year. Riette is demonstrably a not just a Woman of Influence, but a Planner of Influence in the industry more widely."

Riette has been a regular contributor to The Planner, notably writing about how suburban densification can relieve the housing crisis in out September 2018 issue, and explaining how HTA supports employee wellbeing in our February 2020 careers issue.

Sara Parkinson MRTPI

Head of planning, Vistry Partnerships

Citation: "Sara has had a variety of planning roles in her career - private sector planner, planning policy director at London First lobbying government and other organisations, and now a developer role at Vistry Partnerships. Since being at Vistry, in particular, she has been a force of nature, shaping her role in a new and dynamic way and bringing new ideas and energy to the organisation. Her previous experience means she is fantastic at bringing consultant teams together and directing them skilfully to achieving her vision and goals. She is unafraid of speaking her mind, a mind that is very much her own, and in this respect in particular she is a great role model for other younger women coming up in the industry."

Sara was a judge for Women of Influence in 2019, helping to shape the judging process that formed the basis of our approach this year. 

Chris Pipe MRTPI

Director, Planning House

Citation: "Chris has consistently been a strong mentor to students studying on planning courses. She has been a strong role model progressing to head of planning at a local authority whilst having a young family. In 2017, she set up Planning House, an independent planning consultancy. The company has taken a completely fresh approach to employment as it works on a completely flexible approach to the working week offering planners, like myself, opportunities to progress within the industry whilst being able to manage a work-life balance which suits a young family. She is a huge advocate for promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry, sponsoring a number of Women in Planning North East events whilst also supporting me in my role as chair of Women in Planning North East through allowing time in work to attend meetings and organise events. She is a strong, successful woman who has mentored and supported other men and women in the industry."

Kam Saini

Associate director, CarneySweeney and chair of Women in Property Midlands Branch

Citation: "Kam is a significant role model in the Midlands planning arena. She is chair of the Midlands branch of Women in Planning and has grown the organisation's presence and status significantly. As a working mother of one, she advocates a strong case for gender equality in the workplace, and presents herself as a role model for others. She has a strong influence and presence across the region, and reaches out beyond the planning profession to all engaged in the Midlands property market."

Jennifer Smith MRTPI

Founder and director, Smith Jenkins Town Planning

Citation: "Jennifer set up Smith Jenkins Town Planning as a sole practitioner to enable her to continue to work in town planning alongside raising her young family. Since she established the business, she has grown a team of planners (now 11) to become one of the 'go to' planning consultancies in Milton Keynes. She has unparalleled knowledge of planning matters in the local area, which has been demonstrated by a series of significant appeal wins in 2019. She is totally committed to serving her clients to the best of her and her team's abilities. She puts her team's well-being at the heart of the business, providing an extremely family friendly, supportive working environment. As a result, the team's enthusiasm means that clients and local authorities actively want to work with her company."

Citation: "I have worked with Jennifer for nearly two years, during which time she has been a huge and positive influence on both my individual planning career and expertise, but also on planning in the wider sense. Coming from a local authority development management background, Jennifer has taken the time to assist me with understanding the issues, objectives and nuances of planning within a private consultancy.      After a period of disillusionment with local authority planning, bureaucracy and anti-development approaches, and the ability of planning professionals to make a genuine difference and improvement to the quality of the built environment, Jennifer has restored my enthusiasm and desire to continue in this profession and to strive to achieve the best developments possible."  

Anna Snow

Director, central London planning, Iceni Projects

Citation: "Anna is an absolute shining light in Iceni and a privilege to work with. She is brave and bold when she needs to be, and also calm and thoughtful when necessary. She leads the Central London Planning Team in Iceni with steely determination and is a role model for all staff. In terms of project successes, amongst many high profile schemes Anna has been advising on the St Giles Circus, Denmark Street, London redevelopment for more than 12 years. This £90m culturally significant redevelopment above the Crossrail tunnel at Tottenham Court Road is a feat of construction and has involved a host of planning permissions and listed building consents. Also, Anna championed and led the first Iceni International Women’s Day event in 2019 which was a great success. She is my woman of influence because she is a total boss and manages to have an amazing career whilst also juggling the demands of life outside work effortlessly (at least that’s how she makes it seem!)."

Citation: "Anna is my director and mentor in Iceni Projects. The reason I nominate her is because she has given me a whole new way of looking at the planning profession and what it means to be a female within this. Having previous experience of public sector planning, Anna brings with her experience a sense of realism and thought about the consequences and outcomes of planning decisions both for local people and landowners alike. As a female starting out in the planning profession (I myself have 5 years experience), I find working with Anna has quite simply made the journey easier."

Jenny Taylor-Smith MRTPI

Head of town planning, ASDA

Citation: "Jenny continues to push boundaries of her role within the ever changing retail market - as a planner and a woman in the male dominated industry. She now leads the ASDA's town planning team nationwide, which involves looking after 720 stores, depots, home shopping centres and petrol filling stations across the UK, as well as managing planning matters on new acquisitions and disposals [...] With the aim to help retailers, she worked with the government on the 'Agent of Change' principle to put the onus on developers to mitigate against any issues arising from existing, adjacent stores. This was a groundbreaking move, with significant impact for the rest of the retail sector and the policy has now been adopted. Jenny represents the UK for ASDA as part of the WIRED International leadership programme (Women in Real Estate Development) for Walmart, designed with the purpose of enhancing and boosting the integral development of women, motivating each international market to accelerate a cultural change that will allow increasing women representatives in leadership roles."

Diana Louise Thompson MRTPI

Director, MBA Planning

Citation: "Diana has been an active member of the RTPI for 20 years [...] In the last three years she has turned her attention towards setting up her own business with two colleagues. Her diligence has seen her secure consent for over 2,000 houses, about 160,000 square feet of retail floorspace for a leading NI Retailer and 130,000 sq ft of commercial floorspace. She is a leader in her field in both pharmacy and liquor licensing and her contributions to this area continue to inform policy within the local development plan processes councils are grappling with. Diana works closely with planners and councillors to develop mutual respect between private and public stakeholders. Diana is passionate about her job and committed to giving 100 per cent to every piece of work she submits, and she inspires me every day to turn up and give 100 per cent to what I do."

Joanna Ward

Associate transport planner, Elliott Wood

Citation: "Joanna's background includes a variety of organisations across the public, private and charity sectors, including six years at Sustrans. She is a board member of the Transport Planning Society and an active member of Women in Transport. Her TPS board roles include running the annual bursary scheme and encouraging more diverse representation at all levels within the society; she also represents the TPS on the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group. She spoke in October at UK Construction Week about what transport planners can do to address the current Climate Crisis, which led to a commissioning event in Merton and being asked to write a piece on Transport Planning for an architecture magazine. She spoke in November at the Royal town Planning Institute  - Transport Planning Network Conference on 'Promoting equality and inclusivity' in transport. In December she attended the TravelWest Business Travel Awards were she gave the keynote speech. She is currently holding a series of talks at The Building Society, educating all members from the built environment on transport planning."

Sarah Young MRTPI

Director, LUC

Citation: "Sarah Young is a leading expert in Green Belt issues, excels in a range of cross-disciplinary fields, strives to develop a stronger planning sector, and is a fantastic mentor. She has led LUC’s assessment of Green Belt land across numerous authorities and thanks to her work LUC has now undertaken assessments covering nearly 25 per cent of England’s Green Belt. In the past two years Sarah has further developed and refined the Green Belt assessment methodology employed by LUC to assess the potential ‘harm’ of releasing development options from the Green Belt. These studies are increasingly forming a key component of the evidence base for Council Local Plan reviews, in the face of the need to meet significant shortfalls in housing provision. Sarah has also represented multiple councils at local plan examination, providing invaluable experience of this challenging work, which she has been able to use to help guide and her work on the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Sustainable Energy Study received a national RTPI award.  [...] In addition, Sarah strives to develop a stronger planning sector through building networks and collaborations. She frequently seeks to work with other consultancies and partners, developing a strong and diverse network of contacts, with the aim to deliver the most robust and beneficial outcomes. Sarah is also a fantastic mentor and role model to me. She is passionate about the development of LUC’s services but also about the development of her team; she pushes us to perform at our best and to gain knowledge, confidence and essential planning and business skills, but always with good humour and concern for the individual."

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Public sector

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

Alison Bailey MRTPI

Principal planner, Oxfordshire Growth Board

Citation: "Alison has provided robust, meaningful planning support, advice and direction on the strategic plan for Oxford and the local plan for Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils. She brings with her a positive and welcoming environment for all to learn, despite large barriers to delivery of sites, policy documents or local plans. She is also an excellent mentor and has helped me personally excel in the profession, from offering me work experience years ago to now supporting me in my role in the profession - she clearly supports staff and encourages all to enter the profession not just in the past two years but across her entire career. She has made both the planning profession across London and Oxford a better place as well bringing positive change for all communities."

Irene Beautyman MRTPI

Planning for Place programme manager at Improvement Service, RTPI Scotland Convenor 2020

Irene is a significant figure in Scottish planning, particularly for her role at the Improvement Service, where she has a remit to work with local authorities, community planning groups and elected members to connect planning with a range of policy goals link to health, wellbeing and the quality of place. Specifically, her promotion of the connection between good health and good placemaking has been critical in shaping legislation, practice and public health reform in Scotland. Beyond this, she is the RTPI Scotland convenor for 2020, a prominent position from which she's able to influence the debate aroud planning in Scotland. Irene's also one of this year's Women of Influence judges – though, suffice to say, she had no idea she would be on this list!

Citation: "In her role at the Improvement Service, Irene has led on developing skills and implementing behaviour change across the planning system in Scotland. This work has formed an essential part of the programme of planning reforms currently occurring in Scotland."

Citation: "Irene's role in pushing planning for healthy lifestyles up the policy agenda and increasing the awareness and prominence of planning in public health reform circles has meant planning is an early adopter for public health reform."

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Heather_ClaridgeHeather Claridge MRTPI

Principal, development and regeneration services, Glasgow City Council (currently seconded to Architecture & Design Scotland)

Citation: "As a key planning manager in Scotland’s largest authority and currently assisting Architecture and Design Scotland to deliver a new project - place planning for decarbonisation and a changing climate - Heather has a notably accomplished record in helping to deliver grassroots regeneration and influencing high quality design, in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland. She is an avid champion of the public sector, having spoken at many key planning conferences in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 she was awarded RTPI Young Planner of the Year for her creative response to the profession; later that year, she led the team to win the overall Scottish Award for Quality in Planning for the Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership. Heather has levered in significant investment to deliver partnership projects for green and blue infrastructure in areas such as Easterhouse to help deliver positive health, inclusion and climate outcomes. During 2018 and 2019 she has shared her learning with both national and international audiences (including speaking at Academy of Urbanism Congress - Eindhoven 2019).  Heather also gives time to the profession through her work as an APC Assessor and member of the RTPI Membership Assessment Advisory Panel."

Pamela Clifford MRTPI

Planning and building standards manager, West Dunbartonshire Council

Citation: "Pamela has taken bold steps to break down silos and encourage her teams to work collaboratively across the local authority, NHS, private sector and local communities. She encourages positive and healthy working practices in her team and isn't afraid to do things differently. She has a long-term vision with the health and wellbeing of the population at the heart. She is an inspiration to others."

Felicity Hart FRTPI

Team leader (planning services), North Yorkshire County Council

Citation: "Felicity is one of the most underrated yet talented people I know. She moved to her current role to improve her prospects having been a formidable but under-recognised member of her previous team. She is a truly vocational planner, who lives and breathes the profession. I often use her as a sounding board and she never fails to provide invaluable insight into situations even if they are outside of the scope of her experience. She also continues to be a champion for the profession - continuously promoting it to others, encouraging younger planners on their professional paths (as well as supporting older planners going through sticky professional patches or losing motivation for one reason or the other). All the while she continues to face her own challenges both inside and outside of her employment. Felicity genuinely deserves to be recognised for her never ending enthusiasm, professionalism and skill within the sector. She is also a champion for community cohesion and has a strong track record of bringing together groups of people to work towards a greater cause."

Deborah Hill 

Nature conservation team leader, Swansea Council

Citation: "Deborah has worked for Swansea Council Planning Service for around 30 years trying to get a seat around the planning table to have her biodiversity voice heard. However until the introduction of recent legislation in Wales, biodiversity matters  were well down planners' and developers' list of priorities. That  has now all changed  and Deb has been at the forefront of the new agenda. 'Working with Nature' is now a priority for the Public Service Board and it has been added as the Council's 6th corporate priority (Deb heads up the relevant working group). Deb chairs the Swansea Environmental Forum comprising public service stakeholders and  third sector groups tackling environmental issues alongside the Council , she also leads  the Local Nature Partnership and is involved in numerous national groups relating to nature conservation.  Deb  is a truly passionate individual who dedicates herself tirelessly seven days a week to nature conservation. It is the focus of her life and she is finally being listened to both within the council and by outside organisations."

Leigh Johnson

Head of master development and design, Homes England

Citation: "Leigh has  worked in the private sector for 30 years before joining Homes England last year. Leigh's  role before joining Homes England was very much based on improving the quality of masterplans for new developments. Leigh has carried on this theme of improving master-planning and design quality in the work that she has done so far at Homes England. She has also provided advice for Homes England as part of the work that we are doing with the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. Leigh has a strong social media presence, often tweeting good design and ideas and sharing best practice with others."

Lindsey Richards FRTPI

Head of planning, Homes England

Citation: "Lindsey has consistently led both planning and multidisciplinary teams within Homes England to raise the profile of the planning profession, to work with government on a range of initiatives relating to design quality, delivery, and policy, and acting as an ambassador for town planning in her senior management team role. She has been specifically responsible for leading on the implementation of Building for Life 12 within agency disposals, establishing a programme of conferences with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and bringing together professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds to network and look for solutions to support the delivery of housing."

Victoria Robinson MRTPI

Operational manager for planning and building control, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Citation: "Victoria is vice Chair of POSW (Planning Officers Society Wales) and actively leads for the whole of Wales whilst also running an effective planning service."

Anna Rose MRTPI

Head of Planning Advisory Service

Widely respected as a dynamic director of planning for Milton Keynes, Anna took on the challenging brief of head of PAS in August 2017. Her mission is to drive change and improvement throughout local authority planning, from training elected members to ensuring officers have the knowledge and skills required to deliver planning in the 2020 and beyond. Her impact is being felt in the expandsion of the scope of PAS's work to encompass support to a wider range of local authority planners in the age of cuts to services and in the formulation of campaigns both to attract new people into local authoroity planning and the bring former planners back into the industry. She's both an effective organisation manager and mentor to colleagues. 

Citation: "Anna continues to provide common sense and practical planning support and guidance through her work at PAS. On a personal note, over the past few years Anna has taken time out of  her busy days to support and mentor me over what has been a rollercoaster few years for me. I am quite sure that without her wise words, patience and experience, I would not be the planner and leader I am today. I will be forever thankful for her support."

Sarah Scannell MRTPI

Assistant director of planning and development, London Borough of Hounslow

Citation: "Sarah has risen, originally from planning officer at London Borough of Hounslow and then strategic planner at the Greater London Authority to head of the East Area Team and then assistant director at the head of the development management team at London Borough of Hounslow. She has altered the structure of the planning team with great success, following many years of high turnover (above 50 per cent in some years prior), and has weathered the challenge of maintaining, and improving, a development management team during an historic office move from the 1970s civic centre building to a new premises in the heart of Hounslow. This move was made more complex and important given the new ways of working at Hounslow, which are based on WorkSmart principles and the provision of one desk for every two members of staff."

Juliet Seymour MRTPI

Planning policy manager, London Borough of Southwark

Citation: "Juliet is heavily involved in all areas of the council and is an extremely strong presence on strategic management boards. She has this week submitted the New Southwark Plan for examination which has been a decade long undertaking, where her team - particularly in the last two years - has  completely reformed the presentation of planning policy in the New Southwark Plan. She has supported the development of three large technological projects. These include digital planning application system which is now in beta phase, and she is guiding a new way of monitoring affordable housing with help from service design consultants. Southwark is continuously pushing the boundaries in planning policy and we have been nominated for many awards, but not often is Juliet identified for her strong managerial presence and  for driving cultural change within the department and throughout the council. She has an acute sense of political acumen, is very embedded in the climate emergency in particular, and hopes to drive future change in this area."

Louise Seymour MRTPI

Head of development projects, Leicester City Council

Citation: "In the last two years Louise has been an unrelenting driving force behind the large-scale regeneration of Leicester's Waterside area. After setting out the planning vision for the area in 2015 Louise led her team through a swift CPO process of a seven hectare site  with more than 80 separate land holding interests. The site is now in the council’s control, cleared and remediated. Louise has successfully engaged with the private sector to follow on surrounding sites, securing over £250m of investment so far in apartments, hotels and office buildings. She has been at the forefront of making the case for investment in the City and then ensuring all the Council’s resources and powers are deployed to get buildings out of the ground; from helping developers through the planning process, co-ordinating infrastructure investment and brokering commercial risk-sharing. Louise’s influence and drive are evident on numerous other project across the city. Her energy, persistence and powers of persuasion have enabled her to marshal all of the council’s resources around the planning service to work in partnership with the private sector and get projects delivered. The Council’s reputation for successful partnership working and delivery is now bringing a steady stream of other authorities and representatives from government departments on fact-finding trips."

Lucy Seymour-Bowdery MRTPI

Senior planning officer, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Citation: "Lucy leads by example in two ways - both direct policy influence and as an incredible example for the profession. Lucy's calm, considered approach to national policy on planning for the needs of older and disabled people led to the publication of the first specific piece of guidance on the issue in July 2019. More recently, her management of the Housing Delivery Test has shown her ability to work with a multi-disciplinary team and drive projects through at high standards. More publicly, Lucy embodies the profession, promoting planning at all opportunities internally and externally. She is an excellent role model and mentor. Her recent election to corporate trustee on the RTPI Board follows her dedicated work as a young planner representative."

Amanda Sutcliffe MRTPI

Principal planner, Cardiff Council

Citation: "This is the easiest testimony I will ever write.  Amanda is exceptional.  I have worked in planning for over 25 years across all disciplines and have never worked with anyone more professional, capable, committed, or well regarded.  Amanda is the planning case officer for Wales’ largest urban expansion  - Plasdŵr - and the largest single planning application ever submitted to Cardiff Council. The focus of Amanda’s time over the last two years has been on progressing reserved matters and discharge of condition applications, alongside a number of major brownfield applications.  She is the consummate planner. The development industry respects Amanda’s professionalism, commitment, experience and efficiency to such an extent that they are willing to pay a premium to retain her involvement through a planning performance agreement.  Amanda also champions her work with the community, going the extra mile to communicate often complicated processes, personally responding to letters and emails from residents and agreeing to meeting people at their homes on occasion. She mentors less experienced officers and also finds time to work on a range of other developments where her passion and determination to adding value and quality to new development is universally accepted. Among the testimonials she has received is this one, from an objector: "I just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work and your planning department - I know that we are not the only ones that contact you and it must be exhausting, so I just wanted you to have an email that said thank-you and happy new year rather than an email that was complaining."

Nissa Shahid MRTPI

Bid manager for the digitising planning and standards directorate at Connected Places Catapult

Citation: "As one of the few women working in the planning and technology sector, Nissa has been vital to the success of the Future of Planning programme at the Connected Places Catapult – and also within the wider Digital Planning and Innovation sphere. Over the past two years she’s been mapping out the existing planning system - identifying and developing prototypes for digital disruption in planning. Of these, two are currently in further development with local planning authorities as part of their digital transformation process, while the others are being used as basis for thought leadership in other parts of planning.  Her work and influence has been UK wide and international, from leading a multidisciplinary team of planners, designers, user researchers and technologists in developing a Horizon Scanning report on technology for the digital transformation of the Scottish planning process, down to being part of the key team developing innovation policies for the American University in Sharjah.  She has been an advocate for other women (and especially for those from BAME backgrounds, like herself) in the profession. When she set out to do what she was passionate about, there was no clear path - she took risks and had to grab every lifeline that was thrown her way (and those not thrown her way), in addition to owning any mistake. It was her passion for what she does that has brought her to the forefront of the Plantech sector when it was just emerging."

Nissa has written for us on how intelligent use of data can improve planning decision-making and offered her thoughts on the future of the high street in our May 2019 issue.

^ Return to at-a-glance list


Third sector

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

Eileen Conn

Co-ordinator, Peckham Vision

A former civil servant, Eileen is a veteran community activist who has been campaigning for improvements to and preservation of her south London home since 1975. Her activism bagn with the founding of the Peckham Action Group, which camapigned to save the area's historic high stret from 1977-1982. In 2006, she founded Peckham Vision, ostensibly to save a former industrial site, the Copeland Park and Bussey Building, from demolition and redevelopment as a commercial site, and save it for community use. It's now a creative hub with spaces for arts, events and fitness, a record shop, a café and even a rooftop cinema, and Copeland Park designates itself as Peckham's 'cultural quarter'. Peckahm Vision has gone from strength to strength as a community action group. From 2017, Eileen led the group in campaigning for Peckham multi-story car park to be similarly converted into commuity space rather than commercial development. Today, it's home to Peckham Levels, seven storeys of work adn creative space for artists, entrepreneurs and the community. Her ability to see the potential in existing buildings to become places driven by community and culture has ensured that Peckham has two well-loved, well-used and important creative and cultural spaces that would otherwise be the kinds flats, offices and shops that are prevalent everywhere. As eileen told Time Out in 2018: "I’m a mobiliser. I’m interested in how people organise themselves to make a sensible and effective decision. And one of the lessons from my experience I would like to convey to all community activists is this: don’t give up when the formal procedures say it’s the end."

Citation: "Eileen has pioneered community engagement in the planning process through her work with Peckham Vision."

Victoria Hills MRTPI

Chief executive, Royal Town Planning Institute

Since her appointment in 2018, Victoria has injected a new sense of dynamism and campaigning zeal into the RTPI. In the last two years, she's initiated campigns and research to introduce more planners to the executive teams in local authorities; to enable younger planners to spend time with local authority heads of planning; to bring UK heads of planning together to discuss common issues; and to increase resurces for local authority planning departments. She was instrumental in driving the creation of a new ten-year corporate strategy that puts climate at the heart of the RTPI's agenda, and she makes regular appearances at events and in the media raising the profile of planning and promoting it as a profession that can contribute to solving many of the big challenges of the 2020s.

Citation: "Victoria displays 100 per cent dedication to the planning profession and has worked incredibly hard to keep the RTPI moving forward and promote planning in a positive light. Victoria is the most positive person in planning and a true ambassador for the profession."

Sarah James MRTPI

Membership development officer, Civic Voice

Citation: "Civic Voice's profile within the planning sector has grown hugely over the past three years, and this has been down to Sarah James's ability to connect local issues with the national context. We doubt many other individuals in the sector would have achieved and influenced as much as Sarah has. Whether training community groups on Building for Life 12, presenting to ministers or preparing briefings for meetings with ministers, she really does bring a unique ability to the role. A recent example of this has been her involvement in helping to shape and influence the national policy agenda towards encouraging meaningful community participation in placemaking. Civic Voice has had several successes, and Sarah has been at the heart of each of them, including in October 2019 when the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) amended the national Planning Practice Guidance to place a greater focus on community engagement through the design process. Now, for the first-time in planning history there is a specific reference to ‘civic societies’ as place leaders in national planning guidance. Sarah was responsible for taking the lead on Civic Voice’s Building Better campaign, responding to the launch of the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. We believed it was an opportunity in an emerging policy area to drive forward our campaign to put communities at the heart of placemaking. Sarah set up a working group of key individuals within the civic movement to help inform and develop our campaign, compiled an online survey, analysed, highlighted key messages, gave oral evidence to the chair of the Commission and presented our findings to the the planning minister. Sarah also led the engagement with 200 community groups, national policy makers and government to deliver Civic Voice's Manifesto which,  o quote Gavin Parker at the RTPI annual lecture "every planner in the country should read". Sarah is leading Civic Voice's 'Power in the Planning System' campaigning and is currently overseeing research into the usefulness of Statements of Community Involvement  - Sarah has delivered direct training to over 150 community groups in 2019 on Building for Life and Introduction to the Planning System."

Sue Manns FRTPI

President, Royal Town Planning Institute, and director, Sue Manns Associates

As vice-president of the RTPI in 2019 and now president, Sue plays a key role in raising the profile of planning throughout industry, local and natioal government, the media and communities. Her particular commitment is to use her position to increase diversity and inclusivity within the planing profession and she launched a 10-year action plan to this end in February this year.

Citation: "Sue has inspired me throughout my career and continues to do so. Sue has boundless energy and enthusiasm for the profession and is a true ambassador. She is thoroughly committed to making the profession and the places we as planners shape truly inclusive and diverse. Sue is always willing to help and support young planners."

Priya Shah

Founder of BAME in Property and senior account manager, Grayling 

Citation: "In the short time since Priya founded started BAME in Property she has fundraised and raised awareness around blood cancer, promoted outstanding BAME individuals, has partnered with the British Property Federation, and made BAME in Property one of the foremost advocates for inclusivity in the property sphere."

Citation: "Having attended a few BAME in Property events, I found Priya very personable to speak with, and inspiring. She offered to support my learning about the planning sector, especially given its integration with the health sector. If it wasn't for Priya, I would not have gained such a holistic understanding of the built environment and the issues within the sector."

 

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