The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland

Convenerís message

25 January 2008


A happy new year, and big thanks to Alistair Stark for his convenership last year. Letís do our best to make 2008 a year when the potential of the work we do is recognised and valued.A year when we strengthen links inside and outside Scotland. A year when we begin to attract even more new talent into the planning profession. And a year when we and all our fellow citizens really start to make a visible contribution to better place making.We have a long way to go.


As ever, what weíre looking for is more connectivity. Joined up thinking. Places that ease and please, that donít frustrate our daily life and our hopes for a sustainable future. Itís a daunting task, but every small step will count.


People have been talking of the need to discriminate Ėto distinguish between planningís role as place for vision, and its regulatory elements. To separate the national from the local. Iím a firm believer in horses for courses.But letís be careful not to divide up the way we think. Our national decisions have to be informed by an appreciation of the local realities on the ground. Our policy vision has to be connected to what weíre able to achieve day by day at the hand of development management. Itís through small steps in the decisions we make here and now that we can really begin to make a difference.

When I first got the urge to be a town planner, Ian Nairn was hammering out warnings about the way we were covering every part of Britain with formless, careless development. He saw dreary roadscapes, signs, wires and mess beginning to engulf the landscape from Lands End to John Oí Groats.In the Architectural Review and in his book Outrage he charted a journey of sameness from the outskirts of Southampton to the Highlands of Scotland.The subtopian sprawl Nairn saw fifty years ago is still with us. US public health director Howard Frumkin points to sprawl and the lack of proper place design as a big contributor to the health problems our nations face today.Iím happy the longstanding links between planning and public health are being rediscovered.West of Scotland Chapter has a good meeting on this key theme coming up on 13 March, and Scotlandís Chief Medical Officer, Harry Burns, has agreed to give our Geddes Lecture in Edinburgh on June 4th.


The Geddes Lecture is jointly presented with the Saltire Society. Their excellent exhibition of the last 70 years of the Saltire Housing Awards is still touring. In todayís rush for more housebuilding, letís remember that weíve been here before. Surely the big lesson of recent decades is that provision of new housing is not just about numbers.Good design, quality of environment, and proper maintenance need to be fundamental to all developments. We canít afford to make the same mistakes again.


Roger Kelly



Roger Kelly convened the Royal Town Planning Instituteís Scottish Executive throughout 2008.

This message appeared in the March 2008 edition of the Scottish Planner

later convener messagesApril 2008June 2008August 2008October 2008December 2008


Review of the year 2008

Roger Kelly on the context of planning reform June 2009