Wales Planning Conference 2011: New Beginnings?
The Wales Planning Conference 2011:New Beginnings?, was held on Tuesday 7 June 2011 at City Hall, Cardiff. This was the fourth Wales Planning Conference and saw a record number of delegates.
The Conference discussed planning for Wales in the context of changing circumstances, including primary legislative powers for town and country planning, a new Session of the National Assembly for Wales and a new Minister in the Welsh Government, as well as new personnel and structures affecting the Planning Inspectorate and the Infrastructure Planning Commission.
The Conference , chaired by Malcolm Hockaday of Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, was addressed by the new Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development in the Welsh Government, John Griffiths AM, who announced the publication of a new study on planning for economic renewal and a Cabinet Written Statement responding to the Study's recommendations. The Minister's Speech is available to download in English neu yn Cymraeg
The Conference also heard from the new Director for the Planning Inspectorate in Wales, Peter Burley, who discussed changes taking place within the Inspectorate relating to Wales, including a new Major Infrastructure Planning Unit and also changes on procedures. Andrew Farrow, Head of Planning at Flintshire County Council and Vice Chair of POSW set out an example of how Local Planning Authorities are adapting their services to deliver positively for customers, as well as addressing resource issues.
For the remainder of the morning delegates attended workshops on a variety of topics. Reports are available to download on the workshops below:
In the afternoon, the Conference heard from a speakers on a "kaleidoscope" of topics, all contributing to the Conference question of whether new begiinings should mean a change in planning in Wales? Firstly ,Professor Terry Marsden set out the discussion around delivering sustainable places, particulalrly during hard times and set out the research agenda taking place within the Cardiff University Sustainable Places Research Agenda and looked for ways of making this applicable to practitioners. Sir Michael Pitt then discussed infrastructre planning and, expanding on the Peter Burley's presentation,the changes taking place with regard to determining large infrastructure projects and current porgress on determining applications. The final plenary speaker of the day took us west of Wales to Ireland; Des Cox, Chair of RTPI Ireland, provided a view on the history of the celtic tiger, with a particular focus from a planning perspective.
The plenary debate challenged the role of statutory planning, asking whether it was the problem or the answer? Supporting statutory planning was Rosemary Thomas, Chief Planner in the Welsh Government who proposed that the planning system serves a modern complex society with competing demands and Peter Geraghty, RTPI Junior Vice President who argued that statutory planning prevents the worse types of development and does not inhibt the best development. In opposition were Alun Francis, Chair of the Design Commission for Wales who argued for a system which encouraged the return of patronage and Gareth Williams, Head of the Cardiff Office at Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, who argued for a review of the Local Development Plan System and a move away from development control which is encouraged by statutory planning. The audience voting was both before the debate and following more in favour of statutory planning, but there was a shift in voting in support of statutory planning!
RTPI Cymru would like to thank the 2011 Conference sponsors and supporters: Nathaniel Lichield and Partners, JBP Associates Ltd, Civitas Law, and the Design Commisison for Wales.