After what was heralded as being a nail biting election we have a surprisingly clear-cut outcome. So what does this mean for planning? It is still uncertain as I write this, just one week later, but by the time of our two day Spring Conference in Dorchester it should be much clearer. We will be hearing first-hand from keynote speakers Steve Quartermain of DCLG who will give us his view on planning under the new Government and Oliver Letwin MP Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who will outline the new Government's approach to planning. Oliver was recently promoted to Cabinet and is one of the Conservative's most influential thinkers.
The theme of the Conference is "Delivering quality growth through planning". The first day will focus on the Poundbury Urban Extension which is probably the best recent example of a mixed use development in the country. Whilst we can debate the architectural style there is no doubt that the scheme delivers quality place making. It is underpinned by key urban design qualities of legibility, permeability vitality and variety. International Master Planner Leon Krier is flying in especially from his home in Spain to giving the opening presentation after a recorded introduction by HRH the Prince of Wales.
We will be contrasting this development with a more contemporary 12.5 acre regeneration scheme at Brewery Square designed by Piers Gough of CZWG, comprising a bold public square, restaurants, pubs, shops, a cinema and hotel (where conference delegates will be staying) just minutes from Dorchester South Station.
Kingston Mauward a fine Grade 1 country house with beautiful landscaped grounds and a large lake will be the venue for the conference dinner. Here we will be entertained by the Dorset Youth String Ensemble and Edward Fox has kindly agreed to give the after dinner speech.
After our AGM and lunch the Princes Foundation have kindly agreed to hold an afternoon masterclass on the design of urban extensions. This is intended to be hands on and promises to be most inspiring .
Full details of our Spring Conference can be found on the POS website and thanks to sponsorship and a subsidy from POS we have managed to keep the price for the whole two days including one night's hotel accommodation and the conference dinner to £150 plus vat. This must surely be one of the best value conferences around so do book now and invite your colleagues too!
As I write this I am returning from another lively meeting of the POS Spatial Planning Network. Here we discussed our proposals for a two stage local plans process - stage 1 to deal with the larger than local vision, housing and jobs distribution and key infrastructure across a wide area and a flexible part 2 with locally determined land allocations. There is broad support emerging across our membership and within the property industry for our approach and we have already contacted Greg Clark to set up a meeting to discuss this proposal. I very much welcome Greg Clark's appointment as our new Secretary of State. I met him on a number of occasions when the proposals for neighbourhood planning were being developed and found him to be both thoughtful and passionate about community involvement in planning.
We will also be raising a number of other issues including the need for proper resourcing of planning services by devolved local fee setting to enable full cost recovery, infrastructure funding and the importance of having a chief planner at management team level in each local planning authority.
So this is the last President's Piece I shall be writing. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to represent the membership over the past year. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone. At our Spring Conference Stewart Murray will take the baton forward. Stewart is Assistant Director of Planning at the Greater London Authority and will I am sure be a great advocate for the Society. I wish him well. Meanwhile as past President I intend following through on the evolutionary reforms set out in our manifesto. I look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it in Dorchester on 18 and 19th June.
David Evans, President 2014/15