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Everyone loves a planner

September 22, 2011

Amidst the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) doom and gloom I bring you good news – everyone loves planners.

The British Property Federation (BPF) hosted an event this morning on the NPPF which featured speakers including planning minister Greg Clark, National Trust chief Dame Fiona Reynolds, the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Shaun Spiers and the BPF’s own Liz Peace. It was a veritable who’s who of the NPPF debate. If an asteroid had struck the building, the Daily Telegraph’s ‘Hand’s off Our Land’ campaign would have been sunk. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

One would expect with a room full of so many polarised opinions that things may have got heated. They didn’t. The closest things came to kicking off were some questions from Spiers, politely ignored by the ever-genial Clark who, as a person sitting next to me whispered, reminded him of a local vicar.  Despite the clear differences of opinion in the room, there was one thing everyone appeared to agree on – planners are great and we need more of them.

The planner appreciation society kicked off with Clark declaring himself a “big fan” of planners, to some mild laughter in the room. Unsurprisingly Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) president Richard Summers, in the audience, followed this up with a jab at the government. “Planners are not the enemies of enterprise”, he declared. Next up was developer Great Portland Estates chief executive and new BPF president Toby Courtauld who urged Clark to “help planners wherever possible”. “They [planners] are underpaid and there aren’t enough of them. They have a really tough job,” he said.

Civic Voice’s Tony Burton added his voice to the love-in: “The dramatic decline in the number of planners, the weakening of planning departments and the disheartening effect of a lot of the almost personal attacks on the profession really doesn’t help when they try and engage in positive in discussions”. Dame Fiona Reynolds agreed, adding: “This will only work if planners feel good and are properly equipped and resourced to do the job”.

The event also heard from British Chambers of Commerce director of policy and external affairs, Dr Adam Marshall who called for “a way we can work closely with BIS and the Department for Education on getting more incentives to get people into the planning profession”. “We’re spending untold millions of pounds to let people go to university to do degree on media studies that don’t get them jobs after the graduate, we know we have a small country which we need to plan for appropriately and we do not have a big enough supply of planners”.

Clark rounded things off agreeing that planners are “caught in the crossfire” but, unsurprisingly, made no commitment on improving resources for planning departments, something that may actually tackle the problems within the existing system.

So there you have it, it may not always seem like it, but you are much loved and admired. Now get back to work.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. The Oncoming Storm permalink
    September 22, 2011 2:26 pm

    “Everyone loves planners…” except in Northern Ireland that is where we are constantly ridiculed and slated for being slow, inefficient and responsible for everything that goes wrong, and that’s just from our management.

  2. Evan Owen permalink
    September 22, 2011 2:33 pm

    ROFLMAO the best laugh so far today.

  3. Mark permalink
    September 22, 2011 3:19 pm

    Having worked in marketing for the last 6 years, I have just completed a 12 month university conversion course in planning. I think that Dr Adam Marshall need worry less about the supply of upcoming planners, and more about the supply of posts for them to take up. Of the 30 students on my course, only a handful have secured planning-related employment, and today I made the depressing trip to the Jobcentre to sign on whilst attempting to find even temporary paid work.

    Nice to see planners getting some recognition here nonetheless.

  4. Tom permalink
    September 22, 2011 3:30 pm

    This left me with a warm glowing feeling.

    • Tom permalink
      September 22, 2011 3:32 pm

      Sorry. I forgot sarcasm doesn’t really work when it’s not spoken

  5. Louise permalink
    September 22, 2011 3:36 pm

    Having been made redundant from an RDA, I have struggled since March to find a new job. I am a newly chartered town planner, really keen to develop my career further, but I have had no joy in securing a new role in either the public or the private sector. I do really want to continue my career in planning – however, I am now looking at roles outside of the profession (non-planning jobs – PAs, Team Admins etc) as I feel completely disheartened by my current situation and the continued attack on the planning system and planners. Whilst there may be a need for more planners, the job market certainly does not reflect this need.

  6. andy permalink
    September 23, 2011 8:07 am

    This headline reminds me of a song in The Simpsons

    Hens love roosters,
    Geese love ganders,
    Everone else loves Ned Flanders!/planners!

    Im afraid when the Prime Minister has called the profession ‘the enemies of enterprise’ and Pickles has said were ‘the last bastion of communism and bloody mindedness’, saying youre a ‘big fan’ of planners doesnt really make amends. Its like the bailifs telling the Dale Farm travellers ‘were a big fan of your quirky gypsy ways, but could you move out the way we need to flatten your home.’

  7. Necropolis permalink
    September 26, 2011 7:04 pm

    Its good to hear, finally. Planning has, to be frank, awful PR and we all know it. Quotes and stories like this are some small relief.

    Thing is, we need to get smarter in our game and use this. Re-quote it a bit. Have the President throw it back at Pickles next time he insults us again.

    Problem is… Will we? Or will we just sit quietly again when Ministers fancy giving us another kick?

    I know where my embittered and cynical money will be…

    • Andrew Holmes permalink
      October 5, 2011 10:05 am

      Necropolis, I totally agree with you. I have no idea why the Planning profession is not respected more, frankly by a number of politicians that have no idea of the complexity of the issues that are facing planners everyday. Hopefully, once and for all we can step out of the shadows, and no longer be the scapegoats of the political elite, and make them realise that the main problem with development in this country is the decisions that are made by the politicians themselves!

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