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Blog: Future of Planning Third Thursday Networking Event

The Future of Planning team share their thoughts on the Third Thursday networking event.

Last month the Future of Planning programme took over the Future Cities Catapult’s Third Thursday networking event. These events are always well attended but even we were impressed by the incredible turn-out. Our events team had to close registrations early after hitting our maximum capacity, and within 45 minutes of opening the doors there was a queue outside.

In retrospect, it’s no surprise that the event was such a draw. As our COO Linda Roberts explained in her welcoming remarks, “planning touches on so many domains, from property and development, to design, policy, governance, and public engagement.” The opportunities for innovation at the intersection of these fields is the reason we embarked on the Future of Planning programme back in October.

The night kicked off with our Head of Projects Stefan Webb outlining our journey so far. In the last few months we’ve published a report in the State of the Art in Digital Planning, so we know where innovation is happening today; set up our Future of Planning Sounding Board, made up of some of the most respected practitioners in the industry, including architects, planners and developers; we ran two Innovators Sessions, one in London and one in Birmingham; we’ve completed user research with Snook and FutureGov to identify the recurring challenges the built environment industry faces; and have launched our Open Call, where we’ll be supporting some of the best ideas for creating a planning system that is fit for the 21st century.

Following Stefan’s presentation, we turned the mic over to 4 members of our sounding board who each spent 5 minutes unpacking one of the challenge areas framing our Open Call.  Richard Blythe, from the RTPI, talked about the need to collect and store data in more accessible formats; Mike Kiely, from the Planning Officers Society, talked about the need to create plans which can be easily iterated; Michelle Hanna, from Cast Consulting pleaded for a simpler and more transparent Planning Application process; and Adele Maher from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets set out the opportunities to better engage with local communities.  The detail behind these challenges can be found in the user research report that we release today.

From here, the audience was asked to self-select a challenge area of most interest and to offer feedback on opportunities for innovation within that domain. The session was facilitated by Euan Mills who went on to the final presentation of the evening, focusing on a vision of what  a future planning system might look like.

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