World Town Planning Day – Nurturing the next generation of Planners

The 2022 RTPI Young Planners Conference (YPC) took place in Milton Keynes on 21 and 22 of October, with the overarching theme of ‘Utopia or Dystopia’. Tetra Tech Planning was delighted be headline sponsor for the event. For World Town Planning Day our Head of Planning, Nick Stafford reflects on this recent event and shares details why we feel it is so important to nurture the next generation of Planners at Tetra Tech.

“We had colleagues involved in the Thames Valley RTPI Young Planners so we were pleased to lend our in principle support for an event in Milton Keynes at the time they were bidding to host. Shortly after the announcement 12 months ago that the bid had been successful, agreeing to headline sponsor the event.

Working alongside colleagues from across our full multi-disciplinary offering, Tetra Tech has planners in 12 offices around England, Wales and Northern Ireland; one of which is in the heart of Milton Keynes. During my welcome address to the almost 200 delegates in attendance, I was keen to emphasise what a great location Milton Keynes was for the conference. Having grown up not far from the (now officially!) city, still living close by, and having spent much of my career working in or close to Milton Keynes, I’ve seen first-hand the significant evolution and growth of the area – and indeed played a part of some of it.

This meant that the committee were able to put on a number of really interesting panel discussions, presentations, and walking / cycling tours (the latter of course unfortunately overlapping with the worst of the weather!) for people to learn about Milton Keynes and its principles, and how local experiences can be applied to national planning issues. Personally, I appreciated being asked to be part of a panel around the topic of ‘Upwards or Outwards’, which was a dynamic and interactive discussion.

However, the YPC is about way more than learning. We were delighted to send 9 of our young planner colleagues from across a number of our offices, knowing the significant personal development value that attendees can get from such an event.

This was the first fully in-person YPC post-pandemic so in my address I wanted to encourage all in the room to make the most of the opportunity of being with so many peers from across the industry – planning consultants, planning officers, housebuilders, developers, agents, surveyors and solicitors, to name just a few!

Planning is very much a ‘people business’. Taking steps to interact and build one’s network doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But I believe that us planners are generally a friendly bunch and attending an event like this at such an important early part of someone’s career provides the opportunity to take yourself out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone new. In these environments, and mixing with the kinds of people in attendance, bonds and relationships will be built with a network of people that have the potential to last a career.

The event also plays an important part in keeping the planning wheels turning and allowing our sector to continue to make the vital contribution it does to delivery, good place making, and sustainable growth. With the various climate and economic challenges, more than ever good planning is crucial at the front end of the development process.

It is why it’s important to reflect on World Town Planning Day on the importance of the next generation of Town Planners to our industry and economy, and why we will always support their personal and professional development as part of their career at Tetra Tech, which includes attendance at events such as the YPC. We have a number of roles available at various levels and are always keen to hear from ambitious and enthusiastic planners. Looking ahead we have also just launched the application process for our graduate and apprentice intake for 2023, providing a gateway into the profession. Details can be found on our website (link below).

I do hope that all who attended found value in doing so, in terms of development and on both professional and personal levels. Roll on Birmingham for YPC 2023!”

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