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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Future Planners
I was at the launch of the Demos and friends Future Planners report this morning. All interesting stuff, somewhat preaching to the converted when it comes to my opinions, but with some good meta-points about global value, local value, public and private, and the role of the planner essentially as mediator between these competing perspectives. The most interesting and practical idea I saw in the report was the idea for citizens' juries in the planning process. Lessons could be learnt from some of the stuff my ex-Demos friend Peter MacLeod is talking about currently re citizen assemblies in Canada and other good stuff.

I wished the report did have slightly more concrete recommendations that could get taken up by the RTPI or the government, although I understand why the authors were trying to steer away from simply more policy recommendations. I think their 'changing the story' point could have been made more forcefully: we need planners to have an image change, and that is something the RTPI could really address, through marketing, recruitment and training, and also through (I think) pushing the professional structures in different directions. I also thought that there was a strong argument for thinking more radically about hiving off some of the dull bits of development control that don't really require the same skills as the 'planner as mediator' to junior staff or a different system of control, or, dare I say, a different 'profession' altogether?

It was also nice to see CPRE, who sometimes I am a little mean about here, in more reflective mood and joining forces with the RICS, EP, and RTPI to collaborate on thinking about the future of planning as a positive force and an enabler of dialogue.


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