I recently attended the Young Planners’ Conference in Nottingham which was held from the 2-3rd November. The theme for the Conference this year was ‘Planning for the Greater Good’ which I think is quite relevant at the moment. Every year a different region’s young planners’ committee arranges the conference, and this year it was the East Midlands’ turn, so it was right on our doorstep!
The event kicked off with welcome drinks on Thursday evening, then saw a full day of presentations on Friday. Highlights of the agenda included ‘what should a 21st Century Green Belt look like?’ which included a range of different opinions on the matter, with speakers from the Home Builders Federation, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Shakespeare Martineau and the University of Sheffield. What became clear is that the Green Belt is a topic which inspires passionate debate.
Friday afternoon included a range of crash courses, and I chose to attend the Urban Design session, run by Pegasus Group. This was a useful session, demonstrating how to work around both constraints and opportunities within a site. A Planning Law Update then followed.
The Gala Dinner was held on Friday evening, at Blotts Country Club. This was a great social event, which included fireworks and a band (plus a few drinks!), and was a great chance to meet others in the profession.
The presentations on Saturday included further crash course sessions, followed by an interesting discussion: ‘Reflection – what does good planning mean to you?’ This included a competition for what planning changes you would make if you were prime minister. I came second in this for my ideas on what changes to national planning policy could be made in order to meet the housing needs of our ageing population, and had the opportunity to present my ideas to the delegates.
The morning sessions were then followed by a range of Study Tours. I opted for ‘Walking the Heritage of Nottingham’s Distinct City Centre Quarters’ as I have worked on some heritage related projects recently and find the issues surrounding heritage assets fascinating. This was led by Nottingham City Council’s Heritage Strategy Officer, and Adam Partington of LOCUS Consulting. The tour was really interesting, showing how heritage assets in the city have been converted to suit modern day needs. We also saw some buildings which haven’t yet found a new use, and it demonstrated the importance of finding a viable new use for heritage assets, in order to maintain them for future generations.
Overall it was a great weekend and it was amazing to meet so many other passionate planners. Invaluable experience was also gained by listening to a wide range of different speakers present their views on a diverse range of topical planning matters.
Rebecca Beardsley is a Planner at Planning & Design Practice
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