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08/03/2021

Women of Influence 2021

Words: The Planner
Women of Influence logo

Who are the women working in and around planning who have had an impact over the past year - a year of Covid-19, of planning reform, of growing awareness of the relationship between health, inequality and the built environment, of increasing urgency about the need to deal with the climate crisis? Here are our Women of Influence for 2021

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 and non-competitive 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 59 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 2021 at-a-glance

Click category name to read entries in that category

Academia

Dr Silvia Gullino

Dr Rebecca Windemer

International

Kalen Anderson

Dr. Cecilia Braun

Prof. Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha

Kathryn Reynolds

Maryke van Staden

Law

Sarah Baillie MRTPI

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC

Meeta Kaur MRTPI

Leticia Mandra

Alison Ogley

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Thea Osmund Smith

Jenny Wigley QC

Private sector

Jennie Baker

Donna Barber MRTPI & Becki Hinchliffe

 

 

     

 

Polly Barker MRTPI

Jacqueline Bennett MRTPI

Erin Donaldson MRTPI

Nisha Kurian

Melissa Kurihara MRTPI

Penny Laurenson

Annabel Le Lohé MRTPI

Justine Matchett MRTPI

Sowmya Parthasarathy

Robyn Prince MRTPI

Kelly Ryder MRTPI

Chloe Salisbury MRTPI

Jennifer Smith MRTPI

Layla Vidal Martin MRTPI

Kate Wigley

Lucy Wood AssocRTPI

Public sector

Joanna Averley MRTPI

Shivani Bhatnagar

Jenifer Jackson MRTPI

Claire Kent MRTPI

Anne Marie O'Connor

 

 

 

 

     

 

Sade Olokodana MRTPI

Sarah Parsons

Rebecca Phillips

Lindsay Pratt

Desi Reed MRTPI

Jennie Selley MRTPI

Dr Fiona Simpson MRTPI

Frances Summers

Shama Tatler

Third sector

Sue Bridge MRTPI

Helen Fadipe MRTPI

Victoria Hills MRTPI

Naomi Luhde-Thompson

Alison Mackay MTRPI

Jane Maggs

Sue Manns FRTPI

Charlotte Morphet MRTPI

Ann O'Driscoll

Priya Shah

Olafiyin Taiwo MRTPI

(To see full table on mobile platforms, turn device to landscape)


Women of Influence 2021

Academia

Dr Silvia Gullino

Associate professor, city making, Birmingham City University

Citation: "Silvia has been at the forefront of normalising the learning experience for the planning students through the tough Covid-19 situation whilst showing empathy and humanity. She uses her position to take care of her students and promote their development. Silvia has innovated in digital methods of teaching planning, making sure to encourage the new generation of students to enter the profession in a confident manner, regardless of the current situation. She secured funding for a research project in podcasting as an education tool in planning in July 2020, securing part time employment and research experience for her undergraduate and postgraduate students who acted as co leads. Her work on crowdfunding and placemaking has been internationally recognised."

"Silvia has been at the forefront of normalising the learning experience for the planning students through the tough Covid-19 situation whilst showing empathy and humanity"

Dr Rebecca Windemer

Postdoctoral researcher in planning, Cardiff University

An environmental planner with an interest in the regulation of time and renewable energy infrastructure, Rebecca has this year been focusing on the use of time-limited planning consents for the regulation of onshore wind and solar farms and how decisions are made regarding the future of this infrastructure  (repowering, life-extension and decommissioning). She is also secretary of the Royal Geographic Society Planning and Environment Research Group, a position in which she exerts considerable influence across professions.

Citation: "She has been doing a lot to share her research on wind farm repowering with the wider community - for example, on the RTPI blog, speaking at industry conferences, creating videos, etc. "

^ Return to at-a-glance list


International

Kalen Anderson

Vice president of capital planning and chief planner at the National Capital Commission; formerly director, The City Plan and director, Urban Analysis, City of Edmonton (Canada)

Citation: "She led, from start to finish, the City Plan which is the City of Edmonton’s new municipal development plan, formally adopted in December 2020. The plan sets the framework for Edmonton to grow from one million people to two million. The plan draws on both best practices and emerging innovations to combat urban sprawl, mitigate impacts on the environment and leverage existing infrastructure. The contents of the City Plan are a direct reflection of Kalen; without her the document would not be anywhere near what it has become. It will be a model for future cities, particularly in North America, as they grow."

Dr. Cecilia Braun

Spatial planner/founder, Braun Urban

Citation: "I met Dr. Cecilia Braun at a conference discussing the impact of high speed rail infrastructure in Europe. We were two out of four women in a room of about 30 other people. As a young (and timid) urbanist at one of my first stakeholder consultation meetings for a project, I was impressed by Cecilia’s bold personality to command the room and defend her position when she addressed the crowd. I remember speaking with her afterwards about how we were such few women in the room, and about how she was the only one contributing to the conversation. This experience stuck with me and she has inspired me to be more vocal about my ideas in the workspace and not shy away from injecting myself into a conversation uninvited. 

"In 2020 Cecilia has been working as a project manager in the field of infrastructure and mobility, as well as research and education at the Metropolregion Rheinland association. Her job was to lay the foundations for the association, build initial contacts to various stakeholders (multi-level), develop bottom-up strategies in the field of mobility and transport, and provide a targeted overview for decision-making processes in planning, especially in a cross-border context. During the summer Cecilia took up her first freelance job, which aimed at developing a strategic roadmap or the SURE-Eurodelta Network, an informal network of cities and regions in functional urban area (Eurodelta) across four countries in Western Europe. Towards the end of the year, Cecilia joined the German Economic Institute as a consultant in the field of branches and regions, developing concepts and strategies in the realm of sustainability, digitalisation and transformation for public associations (cities, regions and ministries)."

Prof. Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu

Associate professor and head of planning and housing cluster, University of KwaZulu-Natal; SARChI chair for Inclusive Cities

The first black woman to get a PhD in urban planning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). In South Africa, in 2020 Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu became the first SARChi Chair in Inclusive Cities (and the youngest SARChi chair). The position, funded by the National Research Council and South African City Networks, supports research into spatial, economic and social inclusion within South African cities. In 2020, Hangwelani Hope was also awarded the UKZN Vice Chancellor's Research Award. As a practitioner she sits on numerous national and international boards and bodies, notably SACPLAN, which governs the teaching and practice of town planning in South Africa, and the 24-hour City project at the University of Politecnico di Milan DAStU in Florence, Italy.

Citation: "She won the UKZN Vice Chancellor's Research Award 2020 and was awarded SARChI for inclusive cities, making her youngest SARChI chair."

Kathryn Reynolds

Co-founder, president & chief executive, Shibusa Systems

Citation: "Katy is unstoppable; she is on her way to revolutionising residential construction. Throughout 2020, she has refined Shibusa's unique 'Precision Component On-Site Assembly' process, to create high-quality, sustainable, and attainable housing. Shibusa's mission is to improve social equity worldwide through significantly increasing the global supply of high-quality housing – allowing for greater wealth creation at lower income levels."

"What I admire most about Katy is that she leads with visionary ideals. The housing she is creating is not only below market rate, but it's also intentionally sustainable -- using regionally sourced materials with minimal embodied carbon and construction waste. She's grown our team with a focus on female representation, and crafted meaningful career advancement opportunities for team members at all levels. Katy also pays it forward; she serves on the Responsible Properties Investment Council with the Urban Land Institute nonprofit. In addition, Katy mentors the next generation of leaders, planners, and builders through advising Tulane University’s Masters in Sustainable Real Estate Development program in New Orleans. Every day she inspires me to produce better work, better outcomes, and to better the lives of people around me."

"What I admire most about Katy is that she leads with visionary ideals"

Maryke van Staden

Director of business development and director of the Carbon Climate Centre at ICLEI World Secretariat (an international non-profit focused on helping local governments become more sustainable)

Citation: "In her capacity as the director of business development, Maryke has brought in about six million euros for the organisation in 2020. She is the only female director at ICLEI World Secretariat and has pushed for reducing the gender gap in salary compensation within the organisation. She is also the director of the carbonn Center (enabling local and regional governments to engage in climate reporting and adaptation), providing strategic guidance to a team of about 15 people. Maryke has about 30 years of professional experience in energy and climate policy and security, with the last two decades specialising in renewable energy and climate change at the local community level. As someone who shies away from speaking up, I feel inspired to be a part of Maryke’s team and the conversations she leads."

^ Return to at-a-glance list


Law

Sarah Baillie MRTPI

Partner, Addleshaw Goddard (Scotland)

Citation: "As well as getting on with the "day job", in the last year she has worked with RTPI Scotland to facilitate an annual debate but has been specifically calling upon those developing across the real estate, transport and energy sectors, to seize the opportunity to lockstep together and lead the reset in reshaping the world in a more sustainable way. She has facilitated roundtable discussions and produced thought leadership on the transition to net zero and as we started to unlock in the summer, she was calling on sectors to look at what lessons we could learn from lockdown in order to support and facilitate a move towards a greener, low carbon and sustainable economy. 

"Throughout 2020, she has also contributed to policy and legislative changes through her committee work with the Law Society of Scotland Planning Committee, Scottish Property Federation and Construction Scotland. She also joined the Law Society of Scotland's COP26 & Climate Change Working Group. She is also supporting a number of the firm's Sustainability & Climate Change initiatives including the firm's contribution of 2,600 pro bono hours to the Chancery Lane Project, the worldwide collaboration among lawyers to develop new contracts and model laws to help fight climate change."

Saira Kabir Sheikh QC

Barrister, Francis Taylor Building

One of only five female silks at the planning bar, Saira is the only silk at the planning bar from an ethnic minority background.

Citation:  "During lockdown Saira has been involved in numerous planning appeals and has been amongst the first advocates to 
appear at inquiries and hearings through the digital procedure. She has conducted two highly significant appeals concerning schools in Sutton, including one with a SEN provision. Both were successfully conducted through digital platforms.   

"Saira has been at the forefront of advising hotel operators across London and the South East on the extent that they can use their properties for other uses within the scope of their planning permissions and C1 use class, particularly during the lockdown. Saira has recently broken new ground in respect of the position of telephone kiosks in the streetscape in a challenge brought by Westminster CC to permitted development rights which allowed phone kiosks to be put up without the need for express planning permission. The Government has now amended the PD legislation. Her work in respect of cases relating to the Community Infrastructure Levy has also led to changes in the Regulations which were penalising self-builders who made administrative errors in respect of the self build exemption.

"She is at the forefront of the planning bar and is also active in Inner Temple and is a Bencher of the Inn."

Meeta Kaur MRTPI

Founding partner, Town Legal & RTPI trustee

Citation: "Meeta is understated and humble in her contributions to planning and placemaking. As well as being a founding partner of Town Legal the UK's leading planning law firm, Meeta finds the time to mentor, lead and give back to the industry. Meeta is a guiding light for planning, happy to lend help to individuals and organisations. Selflessness and a genuine interest to make a difference motivates her: she is a board member of Public Practice; the RTPI Board of Trustees and a member of the Women in Planning Advisory board to name but a few.

"Going beyond this, Meeta is a fantastic planning lawyer who delivers a very personal and tailored service to her clients going above and beyond. Her ability to debunk legal terminology and explain complex issues to clients and their planning and non planning teams sets her apart. Meeta is one of the most, if not the most charismatic planning lawyer I know. I am proud to call her a friend, a mentor and planning advisor."

Meeta's written for The Planner a few times. Last year she offered her thoughts on upwards extensions and the government's First Homes scheme.

"Her ability to debunk legal terminology and explain complex issues to clients and their planning and non planning teams sets her apart"

Leticia Mandra

Planning solicitor, Clarke Willmott

Citation: "Leticia is a major asset to the planning team at Clarke Willmott, advising clients with rigour and keen insight. She is also the driving force behind the Women in Planning South West committee, pulling together inspirational events with tremendous women. To top it all, she gave birth to twins this year and continues to work with WIP to deliver new activities, while on maternity leave."

Alison Ogley

Partner, Walker Morris solicitors

Citation: "Alison appeared as advocate (one of the first female solicitor advocates) in the Supreme Court in Samuel Smith Old Brewery concerning the meaning of openness in the green belt context. She is a leading planning and environmental law specialist. She is an inspiring role model, growing up in a small mining village with no legal connections, funding herself through university, doing a masters in environmental law and dually qualifying as a solicitor and barrister. She is known for her collegiate approach and leading role in projects and cases. She recently did an interview for We are the City which is an inspiring read for aspiring female planning lawyers."

 

Suzanne Ornsby QC

Barrister, Francis Taylor Building

A public, planning and environmental lawyer with wide experience of acting for utilities, multinationals, planning authorities, action groups and individuals, Suzanne is one of only five female silks at the planning bar. 

Citation: "Suzanne chairs Francis Taylor Building’s Planning Group and in this role she is championing junior members by providing additional support and encouragement to them so they can build their practices as they wish. She also chairs Chambers’ Pupillage and Tenancy Committee and in this role is seeking to drive change to improve Chambers’ contribution to diversity and social mobility. She is a Bencher of the Middle Temple, where she sits on the Education and Training Committee and is a trained advocacy instructor for the Inn. 

"Suzanne is deeply passionate about effecting positive changes that benefit the many, not the few. She is in demand as a speaker particularly at high profile events. She was recently invited to speak on the planning white paper at the Annual Planning and Environment Bar Association Conference."

Thea Osmund Smith

Barrister, No5 Chambers

Citation: "She has continued her rise up the ranks of the Planning Bar, doing an increasingly heavy work load of developer work which is largely dominated by men. She regularly appears in the High Court and has also appeared in the Court of Appeal. She is also Treasury Counsel advising the Secretary of State on policy matters of national significance. She is an active members of the West Midlands branch of Women in Planning and has hosted regular legal updates. She does pro bono work and writes articles, including one about men’s role in securing equality.  She has provided training to the planning inspectorate. She has continued all this work during lockdown while also presenting and appearing online on a nearly a daily basis.

"That's not to mention some of the smaller things she has been doing to keep everyone positive - she is a complete pleasure to have around and very funny. She is a truly exceptional example to women and girls everywhere of how to be a really confident and successful woman in planning, while being incredibly hard working and very approachable and relaxed." 

"She is a truly exceptional example to women and girls everywhere of how to be a really confident and successful woman in planning"

Jenny Wigley QC

Barrister, Landmark Chambers

Citation: "Jenny successfully led the challenge to the Leeds Site Allocations development plan which was hugely significant and one of the most seminal pieces of litigation this past year."

"She is amazing - she made silk in the last year (December 2020) and there are very few woman silks; she mentors other female juniors, particularly quite junior ones in chambers; She successfully worked with a neighbourhood forum on a local plan challenge; - she's done a lot of those kinds of challenges for community groups."

^ Return to at-a-glance list


A note about judging

This year we received 270 nominations for 142 different women. The quality of the nominations was 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 influence on planning.

This year we asked our seven judges to keep in mind the big themes that have shaped our lives over the past year - Covid-19, inequality, diversity, environment, health and community - as they assessed the entries using the following criteria:

- timeliness (we wanted to feel that nominees had had an impact in the last 12 months);

- five areas of influence, with a specific emphasis on the local: policy change, culture change in planning, communities, the new and developing generations of planners, the reputation of the profession; and

- 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 focused on key cities, such as London) and variety of sectors (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; we classified these women as 'third sector' for the purposes of the list.

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):  Karishma Asaporta (junior officer, climate and energy action at ICLEI World Secretariat); Niall Cussen (chief executive, Office of the Planning Regulator, former chief planner, Ireland); Laura Edgar (news editor, The Planner); Sarah James (membership development officer, Civic Voice, and Woman of Influence 2020); Meeta Kaur MRTPI (founding partner, Town Legal);  Ryan Walker (planning consultant, The Paul Hogarth company, and RTPI Northern Ireland Young Planner of the Year 2020); and Simon Wicks (deputy editor, The Planner).

One of our judges appears on the list; she had absolutely nothing to do with this decision, but is there entirely on merit as a result of receiving a strong nomination.

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Private sector

Jennie Baker

Associate director, Lichfields

Citation: "A fountain of planning knowledge of all things policy and law, with her finger on the pulse of government and local authority updates – and this has certainly been the case during a year full of challenges and change. Sitting on roundtables and expert panels, including with the BPF and MHCLG, Jennie is well-respected across the industry for her technical planning knowledge covering a wide range of matters.

"Jennie was instrumental to developing Lichfields’ response to planning during Covid-19 (navigating a route to development and economic recovery) and the planning reform (Planning for the Future white paper and other changes to the planning system) – both guides have become must read analysis for the planning practitioner, local and central government, and the press when getting to grips with all things change in 2020. Her regular blog posts explain often complex subject matter in easily digestible terms (and always with a splash of humour in the mix)."

Donna Barber MRTPI & Becki Hinchliffe

Directors and founders of Eden Planning

Citation: "They are the epitome of the modern day working women, successfully balancing their careers and family, having recognised the value in flexible working long before the arrival of Covid! Where others have struggled over the last year, Becki and Donna have seen an opportunity to grow their business, taking it from strength to strength. This has included the hire of a new director and three planners, all of whom have joined the business since the start of the pandemic, reflective of the amount of work they have both secured.

"They have established themselves as the go to planning consultants in south Manchester, positioning themselves alongside leading architects and other technical consultants, making them a force to be reckoned with when it comes to securing planning permission. At the heart of their business is the welfare of their employees, which has been at the forefront of their minds when working through the pandemic. The success of the business over the last year is a credit to them and their positive attitudes, which have kept the team going through the long lockdown days."

Polly Barker MRTPI

Principal consultant in economic development, AECOM

Citation: "Over the past year, Polly has been instrumental in developing a place-based approach to transport appraisal and case-making, developing tools and approaches which will help government to direct investment in infrastructure to meet its objectives on housing, levelling up and decarbonisation. In 2020, a £5 million government funded study to look at options to support new housing and economic growth in south east London and north west Kent was launched. Polly has led the work package on how to assess the land, bringing together work on masterplanning, site viability, employment land, development infrastructure and delivery mechanisms to assess how different transport options can transform a whole sub-region.

"Polly has drawn upon her extensive technical skills, including those developed from having worked on projects such as Crossrail 2, the OxCam Arc and Sutton Link, to develop an innovative approach to assessing transformational spatial and economic impacts which goes well beyond what standard transport appraisal guidance would typically require. Her work in this area is a fantastic example of how strategic spatial planning can add a huge amount of value to major public sector investment decisions. She has also been key to developing relationships with key stakeholders across a wide area, working with local authorities, developers and infrastructure providers to develop a long term vision for the area."

Jacqueline Bennett MRTPI

Director/founder of Bennett Leisure and Planning

Citation: "Belap specialises in planning for sport and health and Jacqueline has spent decades being the only woman at the table in working with governing bodies, sports clubs, and council officers. Jacqueline was one of the first planning officers to be employed by Sport England and helped develop guidance for planning for sport. Belap are one of the top providers of playing pitch strategies and OSSR studies.

"This past year Jacqueline has had to find creative ways to keep pitch assessments and strategies on track, even though Covid stopped play for some sports almost entirely. This has involved negotiating agreed bespoke agreed approaches with Sport England, local and national governing bodies and local clubs while ensuring that data collected was robust and forward strategies and plans reflected changing planning environments. Jacqueline is continually pushing to introduce the role of sports participation and facilities into the discussion on planning for health and wellbeing where it is overlooked surprisingly often."

"This past year Jacqueline has had to find creative ways to keep pitch assessments and strategies on track, even though Covid stopped play for some sports almost entirely"

Erin Donaldson MRTPI

Planner, Turley (Belfast)

Citation: "Erin has been a huge source of inspiration and influence for young planners across the whole of Northern Ireland, whether it is giving advice to students or young planners about their future careers in her own time or through her work with Women in Planning NI. Erin has always been a bastion for the planning profession and fully deserves this nomination given the time and effort she has put into supporting and encouraging people in the planning world."

"She has a strong professional profile in Northern Ireland, with a reputation for reaching out and supporting younger planners."

Nisha Kurian

Associate, We Made That

Citation: "Nisha is one of the programme leaders who has initiated RE—SET—GO, a programme with the mission of diversifying architecture practices and built environment professions. One hundred and fifty individuals from under-represented backgrounds will benefit through paid work experience, workshops and one-to-one mentoring. She has recently written for ICON on diversity and representation, saying: "If we are going to be serious about promoting greater diversity within the profession, then we need to proactively create the pathways and opportunities for access into the sector." Professionally, she has led a number of influential planning and placemaking projects at We Made That, including Battersea Design and Tech Quarter Framework, Purley Way Masterplan and Park Royal Centre Masterplan.

Melissa Kurihara MRTPI

Planning director, LUC

Citation: "Melissa returned to work in summer of 2020 during the pandemic following a period of maternity leave and found herself in a transformed working environment, with the entire company already transitioned to working from home and using a new raft of virtual tools for a different world of communication.

"Returning to work following a period of absence is a notorious professional challenge for anyone, let alone during the precarity and chaos of a global pandemic. However, not only did Melissa navigate the process, she immediately set to work launching initiatives to build the skills of our planning team alongside her day-to-day project and business development work. She also barely flinched at the suggestion of speaking on a panel at a virtual Place North West event on the future of Greater Manchester's green belt only a couple of weeks after returning to work. 

"Melissa particularly stands out for her commitment to the development of the wider team. Since returning to the (virtual) office, Melissa has taken the initiative to launch a new approach at LUC to guide younger planners more effectively through the RTPI APC process. She was also pivotal in providing mentoring and guidance to a new graduate recruit who I line manage myself, and who began at the company remotely mid-pandemic.

"She is a distinctly authoritative and insightful guide through the planning system for both LUC's clients and for team members such as myself, and an inspiration in balancing challenges inside and outside the office. And all the while doing so with a notoriously big smile on her face."

"Returning to work following a period of absence is a notorious professional challenge for anyone, let alone during the precarity and chaos of a global pandemic. Not only did Melissa navigate the process, she immediately set to work launching initiatives"

Penny Laurenson

Director of environmental planning and sustainability, Lightsource BP

Citation: "Penny has been part of the planning team at Lightsource since its inception in 2010. From that time the team has grown from two to 20 and now global, and Penny has gone from being a graduate to global head of environment and planning. During this time she has learnt the ins and outs of a new planning system (originally being form and studying planning in New Zealand), studying for a masters and becoming RTPI accredited, whilst also developing Lightsource in-house system for assessing and getting consent for solar farms.

"In the last year Penny has juggled the complexities of this new role, following the merger of BP and Lightsource, her first child, and how to manage a global team developing solar farms during the middle of a pandemic. Penny’s strength and determination has always inspired me, never being put off in an industry and company dominated by men. She deserves recognition for being at the spearhead of delivering several gigawatts of renewable energy in the UK and abroad."

Annabel Le Lohé MRTPI

Senior planner, Storey Homes

Citation: "Over the last year Annabel has been my planning mentor, and through regular meetings and chats has provided me with a highly insightful, informed view of a wide range planning matters, as well as providing in-depth support to improve my project management skills, competency at written representations, public speaking, urban design skills, report and representation writing, understanding of inquiries and appeals processes and broader spatial planning skills.

"On top of this, during the last year as RTPI Thames Valley Young Planners Chair she presented her ‘dream dinner table’ of planners during the RTPI President’s Visit to the South East in 2020. In this, she highlighted  how her role models advocated equality through planning and also discussed the role of young female planners in her RTPI region. In this same capacity, she also engaged with urban planning students at Oxford Brookes University virtually in 2020.

"She has also reached out across to other RTPI regions, having presented her research into stakeholder engagement in planning in the context of zoning systems. During the last two years she has written multiple thought pieces for Building magazine as a graduate panel member, including her predictions for the challenging year of 2020, inputting ideas to encourage cross-disciplinary collaboration. 

"For the last two years she has also acted as the ACE Emerging Professionals London and South East Chair, during which time she work to increase the proportion of female membership in the committee and worked with a committee member to host a diversity focused event on recognising unconscious bias."

Justine Matchett MRTPI

Planning director, Lichfields

Citation: "She has been instrumental in the growth of the Lichfields Newcastle office and now leads on many high-profile projects across the region from new ports to large scale industrial and distribution centres. As a strong female role model she empowers and supports other women across the business and the wider North East. She leads by example, and is actively involved in the mentor scheme supporting junior members of staff. Throughout her time at Lichfields she has helped nurture and develop the careers of countless members of staff. 

"Justine was one of the founders of the Lichfields Wellbeing Initiative set up during the first lockdown. She is an advocate for the bigger picture related to good health and wellness practices. She actively champions the mental health agenda within Lichfields through her personal endeavours which includes blogs, and organising events to help support colleagues. Her work in this field and her advocacy has significance in bringing the firm together. Year after year, Justine continues to support a local homeless charity both through fundraising efforts and on planning matters ensuring they can continue to support the wider Newcastle City community."

"Justine was one of the founders of the Lichfields Wellbeing Initiative set up during the first lockdown"

Sowmya Parthasarathy

Director of urban design & masterplanning, Arup London; group leader, Arup India; Mayor of London design advocate

Citation: "Currently, she is project director for a study commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) exploring masterplan scenarios along the OxCam corridor for future housing delivery in conjunction with securing ambitious environmental and sustainability targets. Sowmya is also part of an expert advisory team tasked with creating a global Net Zero Districts Guidebook being co-developed by Arup and C40 Cities.

"She is an active member of the GLA’s London Review Panel advocating for high-quality design and aspirational sustainability performance for projects across London. Over the last year, her role has focused on supporting Covid-19 city recovery plans. She also sits on design review panels for Transport for London and Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation.

"In addition, Sowmya is a regular contributor to industry-wide roundtables and workshops such as the GLA’s Good Growth by Design Recovery Roundtables, Design Council’s workshops on Homes England’s Design and Sustainability Vision, and input into MHCLG’s emerging National Model Design Code.

"At the end of 2020 Sowmya was invited by MHCLG to be a member of the Planning Reform Advisory Panel. The panel will provide advice to government on the proposals contained in the planning white paper. Specifically, Sowmya will bring her expertise and perspective as a design practitioner to ensure that the strategic objectives behind the reform proposals are considered in the round."

Robyn Prince MRTPI

Director, Boyer

Citation: "I met Robyn through a lean-in circle for women in property that she helped set up. She has been a fantastic inspiration, encouraging networking between women in the industry and helping us to bolster each other's careers. This role has also meant that to many women in property Robyn is the go-to planning advisor, both informally and formally.

"Robyn also sits on the Westminster Property Association NextGen committee acting as a real thought leader for the group and creating engaging discussions to challenge and inspire the industry. Finally, she has also been elected as a member of the RTPI’s General Assembly, and the Education and Lifelong Learning Committee, seeking to promote planning as a career. She's does all of this alongside her day job as a senior figure within Boyer.

"I particularly admire that within these many professional circles she is an outspoken champion of balancing work and family life (with two young children currently being home schooled!), and she actively encourages more women to come back to work after maternity leave. Robyn is a fantastic mentor in the industry and an accomplished planner who I look up to both professionally and personally."

Kelly Ryder MRTPI

Owner of The Planning Lab

Citation: "Kelly is involved in some of the most interesting and high profile third sector property development projects in London. Her small, wholly female, practice is a breath of fresh air and has encouraged us to think differently about how we are approaching our planning applications. Kelly deserves to be recognised for what she is doing in the market."

Chloe Salisbury MRTPI

Associate director, Arup

Citation: "Chloe was recently appointed to the CBI '35 Under 35' committee and she drove the building environment agenda to discuss Covid-19's impact on their respective business and industries. As part of Arup’s Towns Fund Delivery Partner role, Chloe is the lead town planner advising the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to build capacity and capability across a number of local authorities to support them in achieving  positive economic, social and environmental ambitions for their towns.     

"She has a broad range of specialisms and is well-versed and effective as both a policy planner and development planner, operating at the forefront of digital planning. Chloe is leading Arup’s support for the Government of Jersey to produce its bridging Island Plan, where a short-term plan is being prepared to address Covid-related challenges faced by the island. She has been supporting the Greater London Authority to plan for Covid recovery through a study on the future of London’s Central Activities Zone (CAZ). 

"She is supporting the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) deliver its Gateway Review service, which assists local authorities across the country to get local plans in place by 2023. She previously led the three-year evaluation of PAS to ensure it gives the best possible support to local authorities. 

"She is also leading research on net zero communities and the role of the planning system. This research will provide guidance to local authorities on how the planning system can be best utilised to support the transition to net zero carbon places. Chloe’s experience and influence in town planning is highly drawn upon across Arup."

Jennifer Smith MRTPI

Founder and director, Smith Jenkins Town Planning

Citation: "Jennifer has led her team at Smith Jenkins with diligence and integrity during the last 12 months, rising to the challenge of both continuing to provide a high level of service to clients while home schooling her three children. Jennifer has continued to be the 'go to' planning consultant in Milton Keynes, providing key advice to both the public and private sector locally. She was invited to join the LPA's roundtable discussion to formulate a response to the planning white paper. She has established the MK Planning HIT networking and information sharing group, initiating and leading sessions to discuss important local planning matters. She has supported the local Women in Planning Group and provided career advice to planners and allied professionals to support other women through their careers. 

"Jennifer has continued to grow the Smith Jenkins team to become one the largest specialist development management teams in the locality with 12 members of staff. The team has grown during the pandemic, out-performing many other consultancies due to the hard work and company ethos that Jennifer drives. She puts her team's well-being at the heart of the business, providing an extremely family-friendly, supportive working environment which has never been more important than it has in the last year. She actively works to boost her teams mental and physical health, encouraging company walks and physical activity wherever possible. As a result, the team's enthusiasm means that clients and local authorities actively want to work with her company."

"She puts her team's well-being at the heart of the business, providing an extremely family-friendly, supportive working environment which has never been more important than it has in the last year"

Layla Vidal Martin MRTPI

Planning manager, Vistry Partnerships and co-founder, Neurodiversity in Planning

Citation: "Layla is determined and passionate, championing issues that make a difference to her and all of us, promoting diversity and inclusion within the planning and development sector and playing an active role in the RTPI. 

"As Layla's colleague I have learned a tremendous amount from her courage and determination, having just completed two years on the General Assembly, this year she will take a position as trustee on the RTPI Board of Trustees. In 2020, Layla also helped establish the Neurodiversity in Planning group. 

"Layla is a shining light in an industry that is all to often insular, her passion and drive to make a difference is genuinely inspiring, she finds the time to do all of this on top of her demanding job, managing complex projects for a UK top four housebuilder."

Kate Wigley

Director, environmental planning at LUC

Citation: "Kate has had involvement in upwards of 50 energy infrastructure projects in her career at LUC, primarily for wind farms and grid connection projects, and her resilience and perseverance throughout 2020 has helped to grow LUC’s portfolio of work in the renewables sector in Wales, despite the challenges of remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

"In addition, she was project director for the Kendoon to Tongland Reinforcement (KTR) Project on behalf of Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) which comprises 48km of new overhead lines and associated infrastructure located in Dumfries and Galloway. The application was submitted on time to the Scottish Government in September 2020, following over five years of work on routeing and EIA.

"Kate strives to contribute to and develop EIA good practice through engaging in professional networks and collaborating with other professionals in the sector. She frequently works with other consultancies, partners, developers, government agencies and consultees to developing a strong and diverse network of contacts, with the aim to deliver the projects, enhance knowledge and provide added value whilst ensuring environmental outcomes remain at the forefront of all project work and ensuring the optimal outcome for clients. 

"Kate is also a fantastic mentor and role model.  She consistently dedicates time to supporting junior members of staff, ensuring that team members feel confident and supported in their role.  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."

Lucy Wood AssocRTPI

Environmental planning director, Barton Willmore

Citation: "With 15 years’ experience of EIA, environmental planning and sustainability, and having worked at Barton Willmore for over seven years, Lucy has been instrumental in the growth our of Infrastructure and Environment team, and has generated new work pathways including Health Impact Assessment, and Climate Change and Sustainability. Over the last year, she has chaired our cross-team working group on climate change and sustainability. 

"Lucy has presented at various conferences, seminars and roundtable discussions on health, air quality and climate change. She presented to IEMA EIA Quality Mark members on assessing health in EIA and  mentored two Cambridge University MPhil students over the last year. She has been instrumental in developing and launching our new Graduate Scheme, too.

"In response to Boris Johnson’s 10 point plan for a green recovery, Lucy has been promoting her ideas to the industry on the impact this could have on the way we deliver projects and our services nationally. Alongside a small group of people from across the business, Lucy has been progressing this thinking on how we can drive climate change in our day-to-day work as well as a practice, and regularly shares her progress with the practice on what we can offer our clients and projects in response to ensure we are driving innovation and reduction in carbon emissions at every turn. In addition to all of this, Lucy is a busy mum to two boys and is a great mentor and example of what mums can achieve in our business."

^ Return to at-a-glance list


Public sector

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

Joanna Averley MRTPI

Chief planner for England, MHCLG

Joanna has broken new ground as England's first woman chief planner, taking up the role in early 2020, just as the pandemic was hitting hard, lockdown was exerting its grip on working and business practices, and the government was publishing a white paper outlining major reforms to the planning system. She has taken all of this in her stride and been ever-present at (online) industry events and roundtables, patiently, clearly and honestly explaining the government's view to an industry that is feeling the pinch. She does not shirk from difficult messages, nor is she pessimistic - but remains a knowledgeable, supportive and optimistic planner who knows understands the concerns of her peers but also the opportunities that the future presents. She has gone a long way to making a difficult year more palatable for an industry at the heart of major change. 

Citation: "Took over historically male dominated role in the middle of major reforms. She has gone out of her way to speak and listen to local authorities planning concerns. In these conversations she has been supportive but clear about scale of change coming."

As chief planner for England, Joanna appears regularly in the pages of The Planner. Most recently, we reported on her outline for local authorities on NPPF changes and her keynote speeech at the TCPA annual conference

Shivani Bhatnagar

Principal city planner (Growth Fund/Bids lead), growth and masterplanning, Transport for London

Citation: "Shivani is a strong advocate for gender and racial equality having led the Women in Tech network at TfL and won the Network of the Year award at the Rising Stars TechWomen100 awards last year. Since summer 2020, Shivani has played an active role in raising awareness around the need for anti-racism in the city planning department and the wider TfL organisation. She influenced fellow colleagues and senior managers to set up a permanent Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce and is now developing an anti-racism action plan for the department.

"Shivani is currently also developing a research programme at TfL focused on capturing the minority experience in urban environments and making planning practices as inclusive as possible for all through spatial analysis. Separately, she has set up and led the ‘Xnicity’ staff network group – focused on the experiences of women in TfL at the intersection of gender, ethnicity and race. She organised activities during Black History Month and ran events last year discussing themes such as intersectionality of gender and race, financial planning for BAME. women and mental health and wellbeing for BAME women amongst others."

"Shivani is currently also developing a research programme at TfL focused on capturing the minority experience in urban environments and making planning practices as inclusive as possible"

Jenifer Jackson MRTPI

Assistant director for planning and transport strategy, Richmond and Wandsworth Councils

Citation: "In December 2019 Jenifer Jackson became assistant director for planning and transport strategy for two, sovereign London boroughs (Richmond and Wandsworth), a remit that includes - among other things - the development and delivery of two unique local plans. In this varied leadership role Jeni has acted as a female role model, playing an active role in both councils’ women’s network and working with the services within the division to encourage equalities, diversity and inclusion in all areas. 

"She has engaged proactively with colleagues across the councils -  this includes being a member of the Climate Change Steering Group, taking part in an upcoming virtual work experience event as part of the council’s equality, diversity and inclusion agenda and in implementing proposals for school streets in both boroughs. 

"During the pandemic she has actively supported colleagues and sought to lead by example through informal all-staff sessions and posts on the teams site, encouraging staff to take a break and get out of the house; the fact that she cares for colleagues and is interested in their health and wellbeing is evident. 

"Despite the challenges of Covid-19, Jeni led her teams to develop a new local plan in Wandsworth which, building on the placemaking for people, contains area strategies for the six town centres in the borough and seeks to tackle climate change and deliver design excellence. Jeni is also leading the development of a separate local plan in Richmond where the climate emergency, affordable housing and the future of our high streets are priorities.

"Jeni is always seen with a smile on her face and is a positive role model for others working across the council and for other public sector planners. Throughout any challenge she may face, Jeni maintains her professional integrity and has a genuine ability to inspire."

Claire Kent MRTPI

Principal regeneration officer, Leeds City Council

Citation: "Claire joined the Leeds regeneration team just prior to lockdown one in 2020. Despite not having sufficient time to get to know her colleagues and work programme whilst we could be 'together', Claire has seamlessly made herself a key member of the team. 

"Previously as a planning director at Barton Willmore Claire took a bold decision to move into the public sector and use her strong technical planning skill set to drive forward some of the most ambitious and challenging regeneration opportunities regionally and nationally. These have included: delivery of a 3.5 hectare city centre park and repurposing of extensive and under utilised highway infrastructure; and finalising the planning delivery of a 5,000 homes extension of the urban setting, including the delivery of active green space; 

More importantly, Claire deserves recognition for putting her arm around her team and imparting her experience, drive and tenacity, and up-skilling herself in delivery expertise all whilst home-schooling! Claire is asset to the city, her profession and herself. She is a fine example of the importance of public sector planners."

Anne Marie O'Connor

Deputy planning regulator, within the Office of the Planning Regulator, Ireland

Citation: "Since joining the recently established Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) in April 2020, Anne Marie has led the OPR in the evaluation and assessment of plans, ensuring that the National Planning Framework and government policy is actively implemented on the ground through the statutory plans of local authorities. She has driven forward the production of a detailed methodology for systematic assessment of plans, to enable the OPR to determine, at a strategic level, the consistency of those plans with the myriad and complex policy and legislative context governing the content of same. This has enabled the OPR to maximise its effectiveness in fulfilling its statutory remit and achieved efficiencies for the organisation. 

"Anne Marie furthers the effective implementation of national policy, at local level, through her active and meaningful engagement with planning authorities and other stakeholders. Always cognisant of the wide range of competing obligations, pressures and practical issues faced by planning authorities, she provides clarity on statutory obligations and policy requirements and practical advice to aid the plan-making process. 

"She has an in-depth knowledge of the planning system, including its interactions with European directives and regulations, and, in particular, her expertise on environmental planning law, gained through her position as assistant director of planning at An Bord Pleanála (Ireland’s board of planning appeals). She applies this knowledge and experience in her frequent contribution to the OPR's training program for stakeholders, including elected members, technical staff and administrators, providing focused and interesting presentations/webinars, along with the regulator and the wider OPR team.

"She continues to engage fully with other relevant planning and governmental organisations, tirelessly contributing her experience and knowledge in pursuit of the implementation of proper planning and sustainable development, at all levels of the planning system, throughout the state. In the role as deputy regulator she has gained growing national profile within the planning sphere and is widely respected for her professionalism, planning knowledge and practical expertise."

Sade Olokodana MRTPI

Deputy planning enforcement manager, Barnet Council

Citation: "Sade is the deputy manager of Barnet's planning enforcement team and assists other authority enforcement teams as part of a 'resilience' project. Barnet is one of the busiest and most active planning enforcement teams in the country and is at the latter stages of a transformation project that it is confident will continue to provide great community, environmental and economic benefits well into the future. Sade's contribution to this project and to delivering Barnet's aspirations to be an exemplar service would be worthy of praise in any year. The special circumstances of 2020, however, make her work all the more important. 

"Sade has been instrumental in seeing the Covid-19 emergency as an opportunity to re-orientate and modernise the service and she played a key role in setting up the procedures, including IT procedures, that allow this to be done with minimal loss of efficacy. The systems set up during this phase will continue to be a model for service provision and staff development for many years to come. She and the team have achieved this in spite of planning enforcement traditionally being seen as highly site dependant and often lower priority.

"She has done all this whilst helping other adjust to the isolation and unease that has been a feature of our professional lives for so long now. In addition to her managerial role, Sade has been appointed as mentor to two members of staff undertaking the new RTPI apprentice qualification and as mentor and line manager will be fundamental to their growth and development as town planners. Beyond planning Sade has been a champion for black women in the workplace and is a fine example of a highly effective leader. She has helped the service navigate the emotions of the summer and been a fine ambassador for black history and the contribution of BAME personalities to the modern United Kingdom."

"Sade has been instrumental in seeing the Covid-19 emergency as an opportunity to re-orientate and modernise the service"

Sarah Parsons

Head of place and design, Waltham Forest Council

Citation: "Sarah has been an incredible role model for the team. She leads the design and placemaking team and has spearheaded a series of high quality masterplans and enhanced the council’s design skills to enable Waltham Forest residents and businesses to live, work and shop local, which is becoming increasingly important as a result of the pandemic.

"She has stepped up during this time of change to fill in for the director of planning and steered the local plan to adoption during this time of flux, showing leadership to the team and integrity. She is a mentor and keen supporter of Public Practice and has worked hard to build up a multidisciplinary team, including new associates and graduates. She has also lead by example by volunteering in testing centres and having to home school her two children whilst juggling everything else."

Rebecca Phillips

Professional lead, planing appeals, The Planning Inspectorate

Citation: "The halting of hearings and inquiries due to the pandemic was a concern to government but also was prolonging uncertainty in the communities potentially affected by development. Rebecca recognised the potential of holding events virtually and was instrumental in the introduction of virtual hearings and inquiries, leading on the development of new ways of working, training and supporting planning inspectors and caseworkers. 

"Rebecca's contributions were both strategic and with individual inspectors providing direct professional and pastoral support to the inspectors conducting the Holocaust Memorial Inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate has now conducted over 200 virtual Hearings and Inquiries and Rebecca has played a significant role in this achievement."

Lindsay Pratt

Principal planner, spatial strategy, Glasgow City Council

Citation: "Lindsay is a hugely accomplished planner and urban designer who has made a significant contribution to Glasgow's regeneration and urban environment in recent years. She was promoted to a management post not long before the global pandemic struck. Taking on a new post of this nature can be daunting at the best of times, never mind under these circumstances, but Lindsay has responded amazingly well to this challenge, supporting her colleagues and team members through the difficulties of our new remote working arrangements, all the while continuing to deliver on a demanding and complex work programme in urban planning in Glasgow. 

"Lindsay is responsible for leading on the delivery of key spatial strategies for Glasgow, including that for the River Clyde corridor, which was approved for adoption as spatial supplementary guidance in August 2020 and establishes the framework for one of Scotland's regeneration  priorities in the coming years. Lindsay is also the lead officer for the delivery of Glasgow City Council's planning performance framework, a statutory requirement for submission to the Scottish Government. 

"Pulling this together while the entire planning service is working remotely has also been a major challenge, which, as ever, Lindsay has risen to, delivering above and beyond all expectations. Lindsay has also always been proactive in relation to the promotion of women in planning and is active member of the Glasgow region of the Women in Planning Network. She is an outstanding professional and a role model."

Desi Reed MRTPI

Planning policy and delivery manager, East Suffolk Council

Citation: "Desi has led two planning policy and delivery teams under one planning service and in recent years she has seamlessly blended the teams into a single team to operate consistently across the whole district, whilst also expanding its responsibilities to cover major sites and infrastructure. In leading the teams, she has been responsible for the production of several local plans, two of which were adopted within the past two years and one of those completed its final stages and adoption remotely.

"We are constantly amazed at how she manages to lead and inspire the team to improve the way we work. She has a true skill in modestly inspiring all who work with her, seeking out their skills and passions and enabling these to lead their work and contributions to the service. She is able to motivate and encourage all officers and provides the freedom to individuals to get the job done and take responsibility for their own tasks.

"The past 12 months have obviously been very difficult, but Desi has risen to the challenge brilliantly. Despite suffering a bereavement during 2020, Desi never once allowed any pressures and worries she would undoubtedly have felt to affect her warm and positive relationship to her team. Moving the whole team to remote working happened smoothly, but what sets Desi apart is how she managed to integrate a number of new starters during this period, including several in their first planning job. 

"With a focus on wellbeing Desi has enabled the team to flexibly adapt to new work patterns and challenges and rapidly set up a weekly ‘catch-up’ meeting for all team members and also a weekly “conversation” slot to enable more informal group discussions. This really helped, especially for those living alone and the more junior members of the team. Desi has been a true inspiration to her team over the last 12 months, demonstrating the very best skills not only of a town planner, but also as a leader, enabler and friend."

Jennie Selley MRTPI

Head of planning delivery, Central Bedfordshire Council

Citation: "Due to the changes Jennie had already put in place in relation to processing applications and a move to a paperless environment, planning delivery was ready for the challenge that Covid-19 brought and the need to move to a home working environment. Juggling home schooling and the ‘day-job’ was a challenge for a number of officers within the service area, including Jennie herself. However, she quickly reassured staff and brought understanding and compassion to the situation, whilst still striving to maintaining performance where possible and seeking ideas on how to continue to run the service in a Covid-19 secure way. 

"Through the pandemic Jennie wanted colleagues to continue with professional development opportunities where possible and was instrumental in organising a virtual event for World Town Planning Day, the aim of which was to bring colleagues together virtually to remember why we do ‘planning’ and reignite that passion for the day job during such a difficult period.

"The pandemic brought with it many challenges and new ideas/opportunities were sought to overcome these. One in particular was Development Management Committee; Jennie was the lead on this project and collaborated with Committee Services to set up a virtual meeting and ensure the best possible outcome – including providing support for members and officers in the new environment.

"Despite all the challenges this year has brought, through the changes Jennie implemented the service area has increased performance in both the speed and quality of decisions. She has also created an environment where members of the team are encouraged to challenge processes and make suggestions for improvement. This year has been a huge challenge for all, but Jennie has remained professional and positive at all times and been an example of how we should manage change alongside empathy for individual situations."

"Despite all the challenges this year has brought, through the changes Jennie implemented, the service area has increased performance in both the speed and quality of decisions"

Dr Fiona Simpson MRTPI

Assistant chief planner, Scottish Government

Citation: "Having led planning reform in Scotland and seen the planning bill through parliamentary processes to become the Planning (S) Act 2019, Fiona is now implementing the act by leading the preparation of the National Planning Framework (NPF4) which will include a comprehensive review of Scottish Planning Policy and which is pioneering a new approach to the collaborative preparation of regional spatial strategies which will scale up to inform a national spatial strategy. Fiona's work is founded in an inclusive, collaborative approach."

"Considerable achievements have been delivered by the nominee that will be felt from the macro to the micro scale of the profession and all that planning influences upon." 

Frances Summers

Senior planning policy officer, Dorset Council

Citation: "Frances has worked tirelessly in heading up the organisation of the consultation for the Dorset Council local plan options which, when adopted, will be the first local plan for the whole Dorset Council area. She has led a wide team of people from many council departments to implement a more digital local plan consultation than ever before in Dorset, using many new ideas including webinars and podcasts and many other forms of communication to meet a wide audience whilst ensuring that the consultation is Covid safe and does not put Dorset’s residents and businesses at risk. 

"She has done this whilst juggling many other working commitments and providing lots of valuable support and time to newer members of the team, including myself, which we all really appreciate. Thank you Frances for everything you have done!"

Shama Tatler

Cabinet member for regeneration, property and planning, Brent Council

Citation: "Councillor Tatler is passionate about planning and regeneration, and the role it can play in improving the lives of residents in Brent. She is very pro-inclusive growth. She is incredibly supportive of the staff, and also shares best practice amongst other lead members by speaking at events and working with PAS and the Local Government Association. She is a great role model, being young, female and BAME."

^ Return to at-a-glance list


Third sector

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

Sue Bridge MRTPI

Royal Town Planning Institute board chair & independent planning consultant

Citation: "Most people are aware of the President of the RTPI as it’s a very public facing ambassadorial role and also the chief executive but far fewer are aware of the importance of the Chair of the Board of Trustees so I feel strongly that Sue is an unsung heroine. This is an extremely demanding role as it involves being able to turn your hand to attending to and understanding all aspects of the day-to-day workings of the RTPI and is enormously time intensive for what is essentially a volunteer role.

"In the last year, the RTPI as an organisation has obviously also had to deal with the impacts of Covid. Whilst the chief exec and the staff have done a really fantastic job, Sue has also been a very big part of this. Her commitment to helping steer the organisation through this difficult period has been truly amazing. She is enormously adept at knowing when to provide strategic input as well as more detailed direction, can turn her hand to anything from finance, to HR, to membership, to people management issues. And she has done all this without ever seeming to lose her calm, determination and above all her fantastic sense of humour, whilst simultaneously continuing her ‘day job’ of running her own planning consultancy and servicing clients. 

"The fact that the RTPI is continuing to thrive in the current circumstances is in no small part due to Sue’s guiding hand in my view. On a personal level, Sue has been enormously supportive to me in my role as chair of the RTPI’s Membership and Ethics Committee and newly appointed vice chair of the board. She always finds time to speak to me and follow through on issues I raise, as well as giving me sage and good humoured advice whenever I have needed it. I can only aspire to her good people management skills, political astuteness and general shrewdness and steely sense of purpose."

"I can only aspire to her good people management skills, political astuteness and general shrewdness and steely sense of purpose"

Helen Fadipe MRTPI

Founder, BAME Planners Network & director, FPP Associates

Citation: "Helen launched the BAME Planners Network in 2020 giving BAME planners throughout the UK the opportunity to connect and support each other.  From a standing start and in the teeth of the Covid pandemic she has helped to provide networking, training and career advice specifically tailored to the needs of BAME planners and students and corralled input into key policy debates concerning the future of planning and the planning profession to ensure that a diversity of opinion is seen and heard."  

"Helen Fadipe founded the RTPI Presidential Award-winning BAME Planners Network and sits on the Women in Planning Advisory Board. She is an active Member of the RTPI, elected to the General Assembly and a current member of the Membership and Ethics committee. Helen is a strategic planning expert and has worked internationally on multi-million pound projects after significant experience in the public sector leading on strategic planning projects. She is committed to helping those new to the profession find their feet and always willing to offer support and guidance to colleagues - including me."

Helen has made a few appearances in The Planner in the last year: she wrote about the BAME Planners Network in October 2020 and we interviewed her for our diversity themed issue in March 2021.

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. Her willingness to put her head above the parapet and to speak up on all issues affecting planning has been particularly valuable in a year of tumultuous challenges and change. This year she's overseen RTPI responses to Covid-19, to proposed planning reform, to social inequalities of various kinds, to resourcing challenges, to plans for infrastructure and the environment, to the climate crisis, and has pushed the institute to be direct and robust in framing society's big issues from a planing perspective. She's a progressive force for the profession.

Citation: "Victoria has been our voice in both the institute itself and in the constantly changing and evolving macro planning world. She is constant and current with significant updates and keeps us informed on how planning is being managed, and effectively 're-shaped'. 

"She is our voice in consultations with ministers and has earned our respect as a knowledgeable, experienced, well read, and vocal advocate of our cause. I am sure without Victoria at the helm, we would be scraping about in the dark for the majority of the time."

Victoria is a regular commentator in The Planner. Most recently we featured her thoughts on the latest Budget and the government's proposals to prioritise design in planning.

Naomi Luhde-Thompson

Chief executive, Rights Community Action; director, The Shorelines Project; senior planner, Friends of the Earth

Citation: "As co-founder and chief executive of Rights Community Action, Naomi has spearheaded action to tackle the climate crisis, mounted a legal challenge against the government's damaging planning reforms (namely the extension of permitted development rights), and initiated and oversees the  Shorelines Project, a community arts project which aims to empower communities and raise awareness of the impact of climate change in Hull.

"For a number of years she has led Friends of the Earth's training on the planning system for local groups and communities (known as 'Power Up')."

Alison Mackay MTRPI

Co-founder, Women in Planning; Senior planner, CBRE

Citation: "Her work, with others as one of the founders of Women in Planning has been a work of passion and devotion, and is inspiring with its inclusivity - it has links to other groups who may not be as well represented. They have expanded the work nationwide with fantastic take up. They work cross public and private sector, and provide many CPD opportunities. They have recently established a governance board with respected and senior representatives from the industry, committed to supporting them. Alison is committed to increasing diversity in the sector."

Jane Maggs

Vice chair, Southgate District Civic Voice

Citation: "Jane gives back and really cares about communities having a voice in the planning systemOver the last 18 months, Jane was instrumental in organising a community planning weekend to encourage the wider community of Southgate to come together to discuss and respond to a particularly controversial large development proposal in Southgate town centre, called Southgate Office Village. Concerned that the planning application for a 17 storey tower was becoming increasingly contentious locally and political, Jane approached Civic Voice to see if we could help her to facilitate a series of workshops to reduce the temperature of the debate locally, explain what’s actually being proposed and encourage the local community to ‘have their say’.

"Civic Voice helped to facilitate the sessions, but Jane led the organisation, publicity and developed excellent working relationships with local councillors, MPs, local authority officers, businesses, and community groups to ensure a good attendance and discussion on the day and at the follow up feedback session. The sessions were held in June 2019 and had over 250 people participating. All organised in less than six weeks for approximately £300, with greater public participation than the developer’s PR consultants had achieved. The weekend gave local residents, politicians and anyone interested time to understand, raise and discuss the implications of the planning application and consider alternative ideas.

"Since this, Jane has presented her work and an overview of the process the society undertook to other civic societies at various Civic Voice events over the last year. Her work on the Southgate Office Village inspired us at Civic Voice to see the potential of ‘community panels’ and a role for civic societies in encouraging the wider community to get involved and shape local development proposals. This has led to us successfully campaigning for community panels and civic societies now being named in National Planning Guidance."

 

Sue Manns FRTPI

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

When Sue took on the presidency of the RTPI in January 2020, no-one could have guessed how difficult her year in the role would be. This has probably been the most challenging year for any RtPI President - a position that usually requires extensive travel around the UK and the world to meet fellow planners, participate in events and conferences and to view projects. Sue has been denied these opportunities, but she has adapted with aplomb and more than made her presence felt online and through the media and by influencing the direction of the institute this year. In a sense, she has carved out a new approch to the presidency.  When she took on the role, she pledged to promote inclusivity and diversity in the profession. Aside from taking a direct part in events launching the Neurodiversity in Planning Network, she has also been vocal in her support of the BAME Planners Network and has staunchly advocated for planning's role in supporting health and social equality. 

Citation: "As RTPI President during the Institute's most difficult year she has maintained a positive and authoritative influence on the profession."

"During her presidency she promoted diversity and inclusion at a pivotal time in race relations that shook the world. Her vision and understanding of the issues involved makes her an exemplary leader."

"Sue has continued to lead the profession during lockdown, carrying out numerous regional, national and international engagements online; speaking to many planners and built environment professionals on Planner Live and reminding everyone of the power of planning."

Charlotte Morphet MRTPI

Co-founder, Women in Planning; planning policy and design team leader at St Albans Council

Citation: "As a founder of the Women in Planning network, she has actively sought to achieve equal recognition and opportunity for women in the planning sector. During the past year, she has overseen the launch of additional branches of Women in Planning across the UK; expanded the capacity of the network by establishing an advisory board; and is in the process of developing a mentoring scheme (launched on International Women's Day 2021). Charlotte has achieved this all while contributing to the sector in her move to a new leadership position at St Albans City Council and spending time being an inspirational mentor to me."

"Charlotte is very considerate and willing to help others. Charlotte contacted me when she found out we were starting the BAME Planners Network. She provided guidance and her contact. Her timely contact with me ensured we were able to contribute to the Diversity Pledge alongside 15 other organisations. The pledge was co-ordinated by the GLA and New London Architecture."

"Her work, with others, on the Women in Planning has been a work of passion and devotion, and is inspiring with its inclusivity - it has links to other groups who may not be as well represented. They have expanded the work nationwide with fantastic take up. They work across public and private sectors, and provide many CPD opportunities."

"Her work, with others, on the Women in Planning has been a work of passion and devotion, and is inspiring with its inclusivity"

Ann O'Driscoll

Director at North Bristol SusCom

Citation: "She is championing the need for sustainable transport in the West of England region and is a woman who really has an influence. She organises and leads regular meetings, bringing together major employers in North Bristol to discuss sustainable travel and keeps everyone up to date with regular detailed newsletters.

"She pilots ideas and responds to consultations, she is always on top of any sustainable travel news/opportunities in the region and is willing to share her knowledge. She is an absolute inspiration for younger women, leading conversations confidently in rooms full of men. She is also willing to spend time helping out other organisations and sharing her expertise."

Priya Shah

Founder of BAME in Property and senior account manager, Grayling 

Priya has really grown BAME in Property this year, extending its influence and profile, and providing constant commentary, support and insight for under-represented groups during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Citation: "Despite the pandemic, Priya has continued to use her considerable influence in the property and planning industries to raise awareness about issues such as inequalities facing BAME people in housing and through her charity partners, Binti Period and LandAid. 

"She has provided lunch and learn sessions (Homes England and Granger PLC) and a guest lecture at Birmingham University about the former topic and campaigned about the importance of toilet provision to ensure safe periods. 

"She is not afraid to speak about the issues that clearly impact many individuals. There are many more notable activities and events Priya has campaigned for, such as ethnicity pay gap reporting and highlighting South Asian housing stories during the first official South Asian Heritage Month in summer 2020. What also stands out was BAME in Property’s Diwali video, which conveyed a message of hope and inclusivity, during a challenging year."

Priya's featured in the pages of The Planner more than once. In March 2018 we spoke to her about diversity in planning and  featured BAME in Property in our February 2019 issue.

Olafiyin Taiwo MRTPI

Convener, Young Planners Network at Commonwealth Association of Planners; co-chair, Planners for Climate Action; BAME Planners Network steering group member

Citation: "Olafiyin is very industrious and collaborative. As the CAP YPN Convener, she has been actively involved in promoting the role of young planners in the Commonwealth.  She is ever ready to help others. As a young planner, she is a mentor to young planners and supporting them in the career progression and becoming RTPI chartered. She is committed to ensuring organisations have the right structure. She helped established the BAME Planners Network. She is committed to supporting others meet their career goals."

"In her role as Convener Young Planners Network of the Commonwealth, she has initiated and implemented various projects to the benefit of young people all over the common wealth. In addition, she is a co-founder of the BAME Planners Network and has contributed immensely to the realisation of the networks aims and objectives."

Olafiyin has featured in The Planner several times in the last year: she wrote about leadership in February 2021 and commented on sustainable development in our young planners' issues in November 2020.

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