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Planning more ‘vital’ than ever, says RTPI president

Words: Laura Edgar
Stephen Wilkinson | Carmen Valino

RTPI president Stephen Wilkinson has insisted that in these uncertain times, planning is more 'vital' than ever, and that planners are the 'catalysts for change'.

Speaking at the 2017 RTPI Planning Convention, Wilkinson noted that the election campaign was more about public services than Brexit, with young people motivated to vote in high numbers out of concern about their futures.

“Brexit showed us what a divided country we are and last month’s election shows that, a year on, we still are,” he said.

Now, though, the debate is no longer about blaming the planning system as a barrier to growth. “The new debate is around how we can secure more housing, infrastructure, industrial strategies, localism, social equity, investment, air quality, supporting the vulnerable, inclusiveness, and quality of life,” he said.

Despite the changes happening in the UK, Wilkinson said there are positive developments that planners should all work to capitalise on “to ensure that from the uncertainty we can bring more direction and clarity, and to build a better future – one that is strong and inclusive”.

Who said what?


“Green belts were never intended to be large swathes of land where you can’t build but where we need homes.”

“We have completely lost the plot on green belts.”

Lord Taylor of Goss Moor Hon MRTPI


“Key requirements for new developments will be things you can’t see.”

“Where is the disruptive innovation going to come from for the planning industry? If you don’t do it, someone else will.”

Dr Mary Keeling, global program director, IBM Global Government Industry


“If you don’t help us get to sustainable cities, we might as well drive off a cliff.”

“Smart and sustainable is about public, private, academia, everyone, working together.”

Professor Peter Head CBE, founder and chief executive officer, Ecological Sequestration Trust


“Really good planning connects the dots. We need to restore big-picture planning.”

“There is a lack of dialogue between scientists and planners. We need to be talking to each other about issues like climate change.”

Professor Barbara Norman Hon MRTPI, foundation chair of Urban and Regional Planning and Director of Canberra Urban and Regional Futures, University of Canberra


“Leadership should be about listening and fusing voices together.”

Professor Robin Hambleton, professor of city leadership at the University of the West of England


“Without good design we could be building the disasters of the future.”
Jules Pipe, deputy mayor of planning, Greater London Authority

The August edition of The Planner will feature a full report on the convention, but in the meantime, check out #PlanCon17 on Twitter to catch up with all the goings-on.

Image credit | Carmen Valino