Monday, March 3, 2014


When expressing an expert opinion we professionals would like the audience to know the depth of our expeience and relevant knowledge. Proofs of evidence start by setting out a summary of our career as expert planners in an attempt to add credibility to what we go on to say. For example, I will explain that I have worked for 40 years in the public, private and voluntary sectors and have trained and taught planning and related environmental subjects. In response to a past president of the Royal Town Planning Institute's campaign 'Proud of Planning and Planners' my blog explained why I was ashamed of the profession. Part of my regret is around the way in which the profession excludes others from engaging in this vital activity. In fact the absence of a core expertise and a consequent lack of confidence has resulted in there having been many interest groups which have competed for this space; ministers, councillors, pressure groups and the development sector. I would suggest that the best qualified to join and even lead the debate on what and where new developments should take place are the younger generation. Instead of a boast of 40 years experience, a 30 year old could say that they have lived with and started to understand the consequences of 60 years of town and country planning and are now ready to express opinions about what comprises 'sustainable development'. The question of what might be 'sustainable' is a theoretical one for my generation of planners but a matter of life or death for people half our age. It has become a pressing issue for the 25,000 members of the RTPI to listen to what the younger generations think about their inheritance in terms of housing, employment, shopping, recreation,transport, food supply etc and to do what we can to assist them in achieving their vision for the future. The young should not try to mimic the professionals who have been responsible for planning for what now appears to have locked-in so much unsustainable behaviour,and created unrealistic and unachievable expectations. The younger generations must be helped to assert themselves by listening to and respecting their visions for an uncertain future. The credibility of the young is that they are not responsible for past planning mistakes (however inadvertent)but will be having to live with what is now created under the banner of sustainable development.

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