Chief Planner for the Day

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David Leslie, Lisa Proudfoot, Convener of Planning Councillor Neil Gardiner

This blog is written by Lisa Proudfoot, MRTPI

Stepping into the shoes of the Chief Planner for a day has been a great experience. Led by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland expressed an interest in hosting a young planner for a day as part of a work-shadowing scheme. The aim was to give young planners the chance to learn from the best – those who hold leadership roles in LPAs – to see what it’s like to be ‘at the top table’, the challenges and opportunities they face, and to see first-hand how decisions are made at top level.

I joined David Leslie, Chief Planner at the City of Edinburgh Council for a busy day of learning and observation. From the outset I hoped to see more of the spatial effects of decision making and how different fields and services can work well with each other – be that housing, transport and environment, or more broadly, with the public and private sector. I believe good leadership is important for collaborative working.

In my day to day job, as a Planner with Montagu Evans, I often work with planners within the LPA but my contact with senior management and leaders is often limited. Stepping into the shoes of the Chief Planner for the day has given me the chance to gain an insight into the qualities that make good leaders, an important element in progressing my own planning career.

My day started with an introduction to the service, joined by all service managers, to run through the Council structure – the who’s who. It was then time to head up to the City Chambers for a weekly meeting with the Planning Convenor where we discussed recent workshops held on a number of subjects.  Later I met the current year out students working within the Council who are responsible for arranging the annual Committee site tour. This involved picking out recent developments around a range of topics including sustainability, use of materials and affordable housing.

Later, I was involved in a pre-application project workshop with other services of the Council including case officers and internal consultees. This was a great opportunity to see the challenges faced but also to offer my own thoughts on my experience of using the Service as a customer. I was then involved in a discussion on the Planning Performance Framework, a document to be prepared once a year showing a number of benchmarks and statistics set by the Scottish Government.

Soon enough it was time to head back up to the City Chambers for a briefing, to prepare for the next Development Management Sub-Committee meeting, where we then finished off our day speaking with the planner who acts as Service and Policy Advisor to discuss how officers work with the planning committee.

…a busy day indeed!

I would highly recommend this scheme to other young planners – it is great to see the RTPI and LPAs working to push for good leaders in planning and to provide Chief Planners of the future with these opportunities.

Our recent Scottish Young Planners Conference included a session on “Chief Planners of the Future” where a number of young planners took to the stage to speak about their thoughts on leadership, priorities, deliverability and the future of planning. I think it is important that we keep this moving.

Lisa Proudfoot MRTPI

Planner

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