The Royal Town Planning Institute in Scotland
Convener’s review of the year 2008
What a year this has been! Planning is all about
making the right connections. In the
last year we have seen clear and unforgiving evidence of connectivity, between global
and local, between demand and ability to pay, between what we do and how we
feel. There’s no fatalism in
understanding this. It is with a
mindfulness of connectivity that our profession can have the vision to be
active, not passive. We’re not here to
amplify the world’s troubles, but to demonstrate practical ways to overcome
World class? After what now
seems sickening hubris, the financial Flodden around us should help us to be clear-eyed about the individual care and
effort that underpin all we do, professionally and as citizens. And less apologetic about
our attention to detail or the need to do better. We are still far from a planning system that
inspires active community and business support.
We have strayed from our core values with some great ideas and some
conspicuous consumption masking too much sub-prime development which is bad for
everyone. We’ll have to find ways of making the unhappy accidents of the past
work better in the demanding times ahead.
We can no longer assume, Madoff-like, that
fine words and future growth will cover up the need to properly husband our
resources and service our current stock.
The key to understanding connectivity -as always- is the
knowledge that links go both ways. That losses are gains and problems can be
opportunities. That strategic planning
must be properly grounded in what is really achievable in time and space. That we must take the chances that present themselves and bide our
time for the rest, never ceasing to plan ahead.
At the Institute in Scotland we’ve been mindful of the pressures on our
membership. As a profession, our strength is on the ground, and we can
support each other and engage with the wider community horizontally through
place (in our Chapters) and vertically through particular issues (in our
networks). Together these make up a tartan of mutual support, at its best when
networks come together with places (as when the politicians in planning network
met in Glasgow last year). I hope some of the other networks will now be
brought into chapter events in the year ahead.
As well as improving our support for Chapters, we have been taking steps
to improve communication, so that the Scottish Planner can be more attractive
and useful professionally, and so that we make the most of email and internet
links to get messages across. We’ve been
mindful of the need to reconnect practice and education, and practice and
research, and to work with our sister professions to engage young people in Scotland with the world of public service. We have linked hands with Government through
the Planning Summit and the roll-out to follow, and strengthened our vital
links with Planning Aid. We’ve also been active in taking up international
contacts, immensely helped by the fact that the Institute’s focus for
Commonwealth planners and for European spatial planning are now right here at
57 Melville Street.
In some parts of the world planners (and the long term
perspectives they fight for) are hampered by the lack of a supporting professional
organisation. We’ve got one. Let’s make it work better to make Scotland better.
Kelly January 2009
convened the Royal Town Planning Institute’s Scottish Executive throughout
This message was enclosed with
the first Scottish Planner of 2009
In-year messages January 2008 April 2008 June 2008 August 2008 October 2008 December 2008
Roger Kelly on the context
of planning reform June 2009