Craig McLaren, Director of RTPI Scotland, discusses the recent Scottish Young Planners’ Conference
Young planners from across Scotland have been told that they should make the most of the opportunity to create their own legacy. Speaking at the Scottish Young Planners’ conferenced, Stuart Salter, Chair of the Scottish Young Planners’ Network, echoed former US President John F Kennedy in urging members to look not at what your profession does for you, but what you can do for your profession. Professor Greg Lloyd, University of Ulster, built on this saying that planning is the only vehicle providing a long term vision when society looks at issues quickly, without building in time for reflection. Planning should focus on what we can gain in the future, rather than what could be lost.
This message was echoed by Neil McInroy, Centre for Local Economic Studies. He said that we are in transition on approaches to public services. Although this made things difficult it also provided the chance to influence how we take things forward. Serendipity is not an accident, he said, we can plan to ensure that we have the right conditions for resilient places.
The role of planners was discussed by other speakers. Barbara Cummins of Historic Scotland outlined how good planners were relationship managers bringing together different perspectives, organisations and resources whilst the need for planners to provide solutions was also emphasised in presentations from the managers of the four Strategic Development Plan Authorities. As Pam Ewen said “be ambitious but realistic with a positive approach ready to deliver”. Carol Tannahill highlighted the important role that can be played by planners in creating the conditions and inclusive processes to support regeneration. This came from a backdrop of her work in Glasgow Centre for Population Health showing stark statistics on health in disadvantaged communities. Riccardo Marini also challenged planners to see themselves as designers. What better legacy could there be than turning place you can’t wait to get away from to one you never want to leave?
Scottish Government re-emphasised its support for the profession. Planning Minister Derek Mackay and Chief Planner John McNairney complimented young planners for their energy, drive and commitment. They felt that the future of the profession was in safe hands and Scottish Government would continue to work in partnership with it to support it to deliver quality places and sustainable economic growth.
And perhaps these messages were demonstrated best by Hamish Bell, a young planner who spoke at the conference. He discussed his project comparing approaches to masterplanning in Scotland and Sweden. He had grasped an opportunity and used it to see how to make great places for people.