Scottish Young Planners’ Conference 2018 – A delegate’s take

Luke Vogan, Graduate Planner at Cairngorms National Park Authority, reviews the 2018 Scottish Young Planners’ Conference: The Changing Face of Planning – Planning Ahead


The SYPN conference was brilliant!

It was my first SYPN experience and it surpassed expectations.  The room was filled with a young energy, an optimism, even at 9am! The smell of new recruits encompassed the room, all lined up and ready for marching orders! It was a great opportunity to meet other like minded young professionals who are going to change their little corner of the world through planning. Surreal to think this time last year I was stuck in uni writing my dissertation and a million other assignments, trudging along fuelled by red bull and hope.  And now here I am! A year on and a completely different picture, working in and contributing to the planning profession, in a part of the world I just love!

Kevin Stewart MSP 4

The conference was all about the digitisation of the planning system, using technology to harness a more efficient system, for the professionals who’s jobs could be radically improved and for the communities to understand and engage with the process better. We learned about all this futuristic, cool stuff like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence.  It all sounds very alien like, in the context of planning that is. But imagine being able to see an application on site, in real time, 1:1 scale through your smart phone! Being able to see the building, it’s materials, its affect on the landscape without having to look at pretty 2D picture in a folder entitled ‘supporting evidence’….yawn….is that 2D image a true representation?

Listening to the talks and conversations it seems the future is going to be very different, however one couldn’t help feeling a little tinge of cynicism. Look around you, does it feel like we’re on the brink of a virtual reality revolution? The technological capabilities are out there but that distance between the present and this exciting version of planning the future holds seems but a dream. Having thought about these ideas and listened to other’s opinions (as they floated around the room, interspersed with the sounds of munching on a goats cheese quiche) I came to a conclusion – If there’s one thing I could share from this experience, it’s that change doesn’t happen by doing nothing.


Simple decisions alter our daily experiences.  No one is going to radically revolutionise the profession overnight. I spent years studying. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into my journey to get here! I’m unashameably proud of my profession and if little changes can make a positive difference in moving the profession forward, then it’s my opinion we must try. Why do something the same way we’ve always done it becasue it gets the job done? Lets not be ‘dinosaurs’. Some things will work, others will fail but one thing is for sure, if we are prepared to try then I’m sure a little change will make the journey a little better.


Take a bow and curtain close.

Luke Vogan

Luke is a Graduate Planner in Development Planning at Cairngorms National Park Authority and a Licentiate Member of the RTPI

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