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Planning's women of influence - a round-up

Women in planning tweet

For International Women’s Day, we asked our Twitter followers to suggest who they consider to be the most influential or important women in planning today. We've been getting a steady stream of suggestions ever since.

International Women's Day logoHere's the latest list, which we'll continue to update. We've added some of our own suggestions to those from our Twitter followers, including some 'up and coming' planners, and we've subdivided the entrants by sector. Obviously there’s a good deal of crossover – for example, private sector planners who are also trustees for third sector organisations, and so on. It’s also worth noting that not all of these women are planners, but they have enough influence within the planning and built environment sectors to warrant a mention as influences and inspirations to women in planning.

It's a reasonably long list, but we're sure it's far from comprehensive. What we'd really like are:

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

Please do keep your suggestions coming via Twitter at @ThePlanner_RTPI

Public sector

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

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

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


Pam Ewen – head of planning for Fife Council, former strategic head for the highly-regarded TAYplan, former convenor of the RTPI in Scotland, event speaker and specialist in working with communities.

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

Helen Hayes MPHelen Hayes – Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, founder of Urban Practitioners, sits on the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee. We interviewed Helen late last year.



Kate HendersonKate Henderson – chief executive of the TCPA, contributor to 2014 Independent Lyons housing Review, among other policy panels, visiting professor at the Bartlett School, co-author of Rebuilding Britain: Planning for a better future.



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

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

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

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




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

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

Sarah Richards - chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate (starting 14 March 2016); formerly strategic director of regeneration, housing and resources at Slough Borough Council.

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

Leonora Rozee OBE – recently retired, former deputy chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate, RTPI general assembly member, Planning Aid volunteer chairing Community Forums for EDF and National Grid in relation to the Hinkley Nuclear Power Station and Connection projects.

Frances Wheat – assistant director of regeneration and planning at the London Borough of Camden, instrumental in overseeing the delivery of Kings Cross Central.

Emma Williamson – head of development management at the London Borough of Haringey.

Private sector

Joanne Averley – director in the planning, development and regeneration team at Bilfinger GVA, formerly deputy chief executive of CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and interim chief executive for Centre for Cities.

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

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



Liane Hartley – founder of Mend London and co-founder of Urbanistas, the influential women in property network. Liane has written for The Planner.

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

Catriona Riddell – director of Catriona Riddell Associates, speaker, columnist, former director of planning for the South East of England Regional Assembly; specialisms include ‘open source planning’ and LEPs.

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

Nikola Miller – former RTPI young planner of the year, now RTPI’s planning and practice officer for Scotland. Joint editor of the Scottish Planner, the RTPI Scotland magazine and regular contributor to RTPI publications. Nikola has also featured in the pages of The Planner.

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

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

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

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

Third sector

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

Nicola Barclay – chief executive of Homes for Scotland, active member of the Association of Women in Property, former head of planning at Scottish Futures Trust, the Scottish government’s infrastructure agency.

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

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

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

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

Rachel Fisher – head of policy for the National Housing Federation and an influential campaigner for affordable housing in England.

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

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

Alexandra Jones – chief executive of the Centre for Cities, senior adviser to the City Growth Commission, regular columnist for a variety of built environment publications, including The Planner.

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

Alice Lester MBE – manager at the Planning Advisory Service, awarded MBE for services to planning in 2016 New Year Honours.

Charlotte MorphetCharlotte Morphet – co- founder of the Women in Planning network, former chair of RTPI London and former RTPI trustee, senior consultant knowledge and information at Turley.




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

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

Lisa Taylor – director of Future of London , the independent think tank focusing on regeneration, housing and economic development. With a masters in sustainable urbanism, Lisa has written extensively on retrofitting London’s heritage buildings.


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

Janet AskewJanet Askew - recent RTPI president, in which role she advocated positive planning as far afield as Canada and China. As head of planning and now director of academic engagement at the University of the west of England, she has influenced countless students. Janet has written for The Planner.


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

Dr Janice Morphet – visiting professor at the Bartlett School and a respected thinker and writer on infrastructure planning, spatial planning and planning after devolution.

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


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

Susan Ring – partner at environmental and planning law from Richard Buxton. Represents residents objecting to windfarm developments; Susan has also been acting for SAVE Britain's Heritage and in 2011 achieved a landmark victory in that the English Courts have now held that demolition of buildings can be a project subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

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



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


Laura Mark - digital editor at Architects’ Journal.

Note: Who are the influential women in planning media? Tweet us at @theplanner_rtpi


Eugénie Birch – professor of urban research at the Penn Institute for Urban Research and co-chair of the steering committee for the UN-HABITAT World Urban Campaign. We interviewed Eugénie last year and with the Habitat III conference looming she’s set to become even more significant this year.

Dy Curry – director of planning and environment at the City of Gold Coast, Australia, and current president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners.

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

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

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


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