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"After 100 years, is planning still fit for purpose?"   
30 June 2014 | Posted by Charlotte Burton
Our round-up from the RTPI Great Centenary Debate.

There was lively discussion at the RTPI East of England's Great Centenary debate on 19 June, which Beacon Planning was proud to sponsor. Over 40 delegates heard speakers including the Trudi Elliott CBE, Chief Executive of the RTPI, and Peter Geraghty, Immediate Past President of the RTPI, debating the question "After 100 years, is planning still fit for purpose?".

With many changes to planning in recent years there was lots for the panellists to debate. Trudi Elliott CBE provided an update on the RTPI's work at the national level, reminding us all of the need for planners to promote the profession which is viewed as the "gold standard" in planning across the world to politicians at all levels. Peter Geraghty gave us a light-hearted look at a day in the life of a planner without planning; it is fair to say that poor housing, traffic congestion and widespread flooding would all be unintended consequences of a world without planners!

Andy Thompson, co-Director of Beacon Planning, gave his perspective drawing on his 30 years of experience as a planner. Andy commended the excellent work being done by planners in both private and public sectors, but lamented that the planning system was suffering from year-on-year budget cuts for local authorities. He warned that planning has become a 'political football' which threatens the functioning of the planning system and the reputation of the profession.

The speakers took questions from the floor which included the current 'hot topic' of house prices and the role of planning to provide affordable homes. The panellists were asked about their greatest achievements in their planning careers so far, with many giving examples of successful town centre regeneration schemes.

Looking forwards to the next 100 years, the panellists were in agreement that the planning profession was critical to addressing some of the major challenges facing the country and the globe. With the housing crisis, climate change, social inequalities to tackle (to name but a few), good planning is arguably more important than ever before.