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Planning Portal Annual Conference: day one overview

by on November 30, 2021

On 15 – 18 November we hosted the third Planning Portal Annual Conference (and the second one delivered virtually). The week saw four days of industry experts come together to deliver insightful keynote speeches, panel discussions and breakout sessions.

Day one of the event was all about Planning Reform. One year on from the publication of the Government white paper Planning for the Future we heard from Joanna Averley, Chief Planner at the Department for Levelling Up, Communities and Housing. Discussing the 44,000 responses received in relation to the white paper, Joanna discussed how it highlights the importance of planning to everybody and promised that they are working to respond as soon as possible. In the meantime, she calls for all Local Authorities to progress with their local plans; to ignore the rumours about updates and to keep moving forward as many have out-of-date plans, or in fact, none at all. “It is always better to have a plan, it’s the most important way to shape the built and natural environment”.

During the panel discussion that followed Steve MacPherson, Group Development and Technical Director at Bloor Homes, shared his frustration at the Government and their lack of communication regarding the white paper response which he states is “creating a black hole” with the plan making process proving difficult. He believes that it is preventing local plans from being made and makes it more difficult for local communities to get involved.

Sustainability was one of the key themes of this panel discussion, Wei Yang, President of the RTPI, believes a lot more focus needs to be given to the relationship between spatial planning and the built environment. By planning correctly and strategically for the future, we will be able to see a transformative process that will ultimately help control climate change and its effect.

Other topics covered included how ‘Levelling Up’ will play out, with all panel members calling for more strategic thinking to strengthen social protection, recover from the pandemic, encourage engagement and protect people’s homes, the challenges we face with retrofitting places and neighbourhoods without having to rely on further government funding, and the best way to manage the lack of resources LPAs are facing, especially regarding hiring and retaining talent.

The panel was shortly followed by a presentation from DigEplan, who provide Local Authorities with a fully integrated electronic plan review process with no complexity or long delivery schedules. DigEplan have worked in six countries in the digitisation of planning and building application administration.

We will be sharing the recorded content from the conference to all delegates throughout the next couple of weeks. Keep an eye out on the Community Hub if you would like to catch up or re-watch any sessions.

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