Scottish Young Planners’ Conference 2017

Mar 28, 2017

The 2017 Scottish Young Planners’ Conference took place on Wednesday 22nd March in Stirling. The annual conference is for one of, if not the largest gathering of young planners in Scotland and allows for enthralling, invigorating and topical discussions with one another. The theme this year was ‘The Skills that Young Planners Need to Succeed’ and this was portrayed through the various presentations and workshop sessions throughout the day. 

Chaired by Stefano Smith, Convenor of RTPI Scotland and Planning Director at Peter Brett Associates, the conference kicked off. After the introductory speech from the Chair, the Minister for Local Government & Housing, Kevin Stewart MSP, gave an informative and positive speech regarding young planners in Scotland. The Minister was also keen to discuss the ongoing planning review and also need for providing new, and in particular, affordable housing in Scotland. The Q&A session that followed allowed for the audience to fire questions at the Minister on topics ranging from the environment to job opportunities for young planners finishing their degrees.

The remaining presentations in the morning session from Nicola Barclay on ‘Leading’, Christina Cox on ‘Project Management: making planning happen’ and Irene Beautyman on ‘Innovating: how can we do things differently’, were very informative and motivational. The experienced presenters connected with the audience and shared personal and past stories to inspire the young professionals. 

The afternoon session began with the Scottish Young Planners Network Chair 16/17, Elaine Fotheringham, sharing her views on the planning system, the challenges young planners currently face and Elaine also added a personal touch on the challenges she faced when starting her planning career. The talk gave optimism for young planners and advice on how to succeed in the future.


The presentations that followed provided an opportunity for three young planners to share their views through the use of pictures. Kirsty Macari, Senior Planning Officer at Angus Council, Michael Mulgrew, Graduate Planning Officer at Stirling Council and Murray Rankin, Student and co-recipient of the Jim Boyack Award ’16 took to the stage for the ‘Soap Box Session’ and they all gave brilliantly constructed presentations and certainly set the bar high for next year’s presenters.

Next up, the conference welcomed Jason Jordan, Policy Director for the American Planning Association to present ‘an international perspective on skills’. It was very interesting and refreshing to hear Jason’s views on planning and his advice for young planners at the start of their career. Following on from Jason, Marion Frederiksen, International Policy and Research Officer for the RTPI discussed ‘The New Urban Agenda’. At a time where sustainability and climate change are hot topics on political frameworks, hearing of the work and agreements that have been signed and further agendas that are in the process of being collaborated, provides hope of reducing the impact of global development on the environment. It was very enriching to hear Jason and Marion talk about topics they feel so passionate about.

As the formal presentations were over, it was now time for the workshop sessions. Comprising of a choice of three workshops over two sessions, there was real difficulty in choosing two sessions. The first choice was ‘Making Development Work: the economics of development’ and was held by Ian Drummond, Land Director at Taylor Wimpey and Gladman Scotland’s very own Strategic Land & Planning Director, Catherine Wood. The second choice workshop was guidance on how to ‘Make Yourself an Asset: effective network and business development’ and was hosted by Sandra Lindsay, Land Manager at Springfield Properties and Michael Halliday, Director at Halliday Fraser Munro. The third choice workshop was ‘Unlocking Development: mediation and conflict-resolution’ held by Alison Polson, Associated at Brodies LLP and Graham Boyack, Director at Scottish Mediation Network. Each workshop was relevant to challenges facing young planners but mainly provided guidance and tips to overcome those challenges, personal development and career progression.

As the conference was coming to an end, the Conference Chair asked for speakers from the three workshops gave a short summary on the topics discussed. This was followed by a thanks to all who helped organise the event and the Chair’s closing comments. The conference closed but the networking continued as the majority of attendees moved into the bar with drinks kindly sponsored by Taylor Wimpey.

All in all the conference was a huge success and attendance in the future is highly recommended. A big thank you to the Golden Lion and their staff for hosting the event, the conference sponsors The Scottish Government, Iceni Projects, Heads of Planning Scotland, Springfield Properties, Taylor Wimpey, Peter Brett Associates and Gladman Scotland, the speakers and presenters and the attendees for making it such an enjoyable day.



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