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09/10/2015

Young planners can lay the foundations for successful places

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The places we live and work in form an important part of the way we live our lives and how we perceive our surroundings, writes Angela Moore. The enjoyment of our environment is highly influenced by the way it looks, smells, feels and functions – and this is something that planners and the planning system can and should seek to influence.

Angela Moore, Horsham District CouncilNew technology and an increasingly globalised market have changed many things about our built environment, including the way the high street functions and the way houses are built.

It is argued that this has contributed to making our towns and cities look and feel increasingly similar, with a gradual loss of the identity that once made these places so distinctive.

To create successful and functional places in which people want to live, work and spend time, we must look to develop a much better understanding of what makes that place tick.

"It's important for today’s young planners to take seriously the importance of design when creating and adapting our built surroundings"

We need to use this understanding to ensure the changes we seek to make can enhance the quality and functionality of a place by encouraging more attractive, adaptable and resilient features, whilst looking to eliminate changes that stifle the positive growth and of a place.

To help address the UK’s well-documented housing shortage, we are seeing a revival of Sir Ebenezer Howard’s garden city movement of 1898, with the recent approval of two new garden cities (one for 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet in Kent and another for 13,000 homes at Bicester in Oxfordshire).

The creation of large-scale settlements such as these highlights the importance of implementing carefully thought out urban design principles from the outset. How these new settlements develop remains to be seen, but if they are to succeed as places that people will want to live and work in, the potential needs and desires of the future inhabitants must be well researched to create functional, adaptable, resilient and attractive places that will be valued long into the future.

It is particularly important for today’s young planners to take seriously the importance of design when creating and adapting our built surroundings. After all, we are the future of the profession, and if we can embed this into our priorities now we can teach the next generation of planners to do the same.

By focusing on the topic ‘Planning for Successful Places’, this year’s Young Planners Conference is looking to explore how we can create successful places that are designed well and are valued by those living in them. I've been looking forward to learning more about this important part of planning.

Angela Moore is a senior planning officer at Horsham District Council and a joint organiser of the 2015 Young Planners' Conference

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FEATURES
  • Titled 'The future of planning: What's next?', this year's Planning Convention asked big questions about the direction in which the profession is headed and the role it can play in shaping our collective futures. The Planner's editorial team took note

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  • Discussion of the housing crisis – and what planners can do to fix it – again permeated the annual convention. The Planner sat in on panels focusing on specialist housing and the role of local authorities, as well as an address from the housing minister, writes Matt Moody

    Illustration: Housing construction
  • ”What we do with our cities will either make or break our species,” suggested New York architect Vishaan Chakrabarti in considering how to create future successful cities. Martin Read reports

    A modern city scene
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