While reflecting on the RTPI Scotland Centenary Conference 2014, I committed a few musings and observations to paper. Virtual paper of course, as I seek to emulate the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Chief Executive, Fiona Logan, who praised blogs and social media as much as she did the more traditional mediums of paper and public meetings. I do follow @livepark just for the record…
This is not a review of the conference itself, excellent as it was; that is the place of the evaluation form and capable others. Rather it is my wish to capture an angle touched on in the meeting – ownership. That is, collective ownership of our places and spaces.
Indeed this may be the very legacy that the next 100 years of planners reflect on. The ‘how’ of measures that we have taken now, today and of late to instil a sense of pride amongst communities around the value of planning and the role or function of areas, neighbourhoods and buildings in meeting modern needs. It is perhaps telling that this motivation may in practice be most notable through the heightened levels of public participation across Scotland and in the regular requests for reasoning, evidence, and results (‘outcomes’ to paraphrase the jargon of the moment). But it may also be simply because planning and planners serve a basic human need. We marshal space. Through thoughtful regulation, we provide order to both urban and rural spaces and, most importantly, we aspire.
That vision, the ability to convey ‘the possible’ with pride, conviction, and purpose can only serve our country and places well. We must respect process, after all, recent planning reforms and related legislation demand testing. But we must also innovate, seeking to identify actual needs and prioritise public or private spend accordingly.
As Chair of the Scottish Young Planners’ Network for 2014/15 I hope that the legacy of planning in this country is one of positivity, accepting that planning, whilst merely one discipline, is a leading and influential one.