Women in Planning Official

New website

Women in Planning has moved to a new website http://www.womeninplanning.org

Come and take a look around and find out more about our network, events, branches and how you can get involved.



Women in Planning London – London City Island Walking Tour – 26 September 2018

The walking tour will cover two significant regeneration projects developed on the Leamouth Peninsula, London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The walking tour will begin from outside the Bow Creek exit of Canning Town Station, walking around London City Island and through to the Goodluck Hope marketing suite. Following the tour, drinks will be provided at ‘The Grocer’, Hope Street.

The walking tour will be led by Ballymore and Rolfe Judd Planning, including;

· John Turner, Director of Town Planning for Ballymore

· Sarah Morley, Development Manager for Goodluck Hope

· Laura Corr, Senior Development Manager for London City Island

· Jon Roshier, Director at Rolfe Judd Planning.

Previously a Pura Foods manufacturing plant, ‘London City Island’, designed by Glenn Howells Architects, forms a vibrant new community with 1,706 new homes. The development provides a rich mix of business, retail, leisure and community uses and will be the new home of the English National Ballet and the London Film School. The scheme has won a number of awards, including ‘Development of the Year’ in the RESI Awards 2017 and the ‘Best New Place to Live’ within the London Planning Awards 2017.

‘Goodluck Hope’ forms a high density mixed-use development occupying a prominent river Thames frontage, designed by Allies and Morrison Architects. The scheme comprises 804 new residential units in warehouse-style blocks reflecting the heritage of the site. The development will provide a series of commercial spaces; including the new home of The Wharf Brewing Company and substantial leisure facilities for residents. The development also includes a series of high quality open spaces, including a new public square situated around a Grade II Listed dry dock, which recently won the New London Award for ‘Best Unbuilt Public Space 2018’.

Date: Wednesday 26th September

Time: 6pm meet, tour will commence at 6.15pm

Place to meet: Bow Creek exit of Canning Town Station signposted: ‘London City Island’.

It is free to attend but booking is essential. Please book at the following link:


Sponsored by

In association with



Women in Planning North West: Room with a view – 20/09/18 @ No.1 Spinningfields

Women in Planning North West are excited to host our next event offering a rare and unique opportunity to view the Spinningfields and St.Johns developments from a ‘room with a view’.

Held on the 16th Floor of No. 1 Spinningfields, guests will have the chance to network and take in the views of Spinningfields and St. Johns from 5.30pm, followed by an insight into the development from those who are playing a key role in this exciting regeneration project.

Venue: No. 1 Spinningfields, Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3EB

Date: 20 September 2018


• 17:30 – Registration and Networking/Drinks
• 18:00 – 18:10– Welcome and Introduction from Women in Planning NW
• 18:15 – 19:15 – Presentation from Speakers
• 19:15 – 20:00 – Networking/Drinks
• 20:00 – Close


• Chris Reay – Group Property Director, Allied London
• Rochelle Silverstein, Retail & Leisure Associate Director, Allied London
• John Cooper, Partner, Deloitte
• Sam Grange, Senior Associate, Shoesmiths

The event is free to attend but booking is essential, reserve your place at the following link:


Many thanks to Allied London for providing this exciting opportunity.

Kindly sponsored by:



Women in Planning London When Women Plan London – Housing: From Application to Occupation – 04/09/18 @ City Hall

Women in Planning


Built By Both


When Women Plan London – Housing – From Application to Occupation

London’s housing crisis is the biggest issue facing the capital. At a minimum, London needs 66,000 new homes each year for at least twenty years. There is no silver bullet that will solve the capital’s housing crisis and recent housing strategies haven’t been effective. So, what can we learn from women who have successfully delivered housing from “Application to Occupation?”

Venue: London’s Living Room City Hall

Date: 4 September 2018


  • 16:30 – Registration and Networking
  • 17:30 – 17:35 – Welcome
  • 17:35 – 17:40 Chairs address – Sara Sweeney, Planning Manager, Kitewood and Women in Planning London
  • 17:40 – 18:00 Presentation “Women’s role in delivering housing in London” – Claire Bennie, Director, Municipal
  • 18:00 – 19:00 “From Application to Occupation” a panel discussion considering housing delivery in the round
  • 19:00 – 20:30 – Networking
  • 20:30 – Close

Event Chair:

  • Sara Sweeny, Planning Manager, Kitewood and Women in Planning London

Speakers and panellists:

  • Claire Bennie, Director, Municipal and Mayor’s Design Advocate
  • Liz Connell, Associate Director (Planning), Countryside
  • Michela Hancock, Senior Development Director, Greystar
  • Pooja Agrawal, Principal Project Officer, GLA and Co-Founder, Public Practice

Further panellist will be announced shortly.

It is free to attend but booking is essential, reserve your place at the following link:


Kindly sponsored by:



How to get to City Hall

Tube- stations London Bridge (Jubilee and Northern lines and mainline station; Tower Hill (Circle and District lines); Tower Gateway (Docklands Light Railway)

Buses- 42, 47, 381, RV1

Bicycles- bike racks are available at City Hall, on the South side of the building by Potters Fields Park

All visitors to City Hall are security searched on entry to the building

Limited blue-badge parking is available and must be booked in advance

Full directional information and maps can be found on the Greater London Authority website http://www.london.gov.uk


  • All guests will be security searched on arrival at City Hall.
  • You will be allocated a registration area, you should provide name badges for all your guests so they can be identified as attending your event.
  • Please remember that City Hall is open to the public from 08:30-18.00 Monday-Thursday and 08:30-17:30 Friday.
event write up

Women in Planning South Midlands successfully hosted their launch event on Thursday 19th July in Milton Keynes.

As with any launch event, you can imagine the worry the South Midlands Committee had that nobody would turn up. After a long exchange of emails between Ellie, Becky and Mel from the initial thought for the branch over a pizza in Milton Keynes, and latterly joined by Claire and me, we came to a consensus that things should be simple and informal for our first event.  We hoped this would provide a chance for those attending to come along and introduce themselves in a more relaxed setting and it would help to generate more exposure going forward.

Well, we need not have worried.  In fact, we were overwhelmed by the amount of support that we had in terms of turnout and interest from those who could not make the event.

The evening saw a gathering of around 20 planners from a range of planning backgrounds from across the South Midlands. It would seem like a gin and tonic makes for a fine combination with planning talk. We had a chance to ask those in our region what they would like to get from Women in Planning SM and what events we could hold in the future.

For me, as a resident of Milton Keynes and a recent graduate, what stood out was the diversity of the people that came. From women just starting in the planning profession like me, to those who have had long careers and have set up their own consultancies. Unlike with networking events I have been to in the past there was not a generational divide and instead I saw a genuine interest from all attending in getting to know one another. It also attracted women from across the whole of the region with planners travelling from Bedford, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire to join us. It really embodied the ethos of Women in Planning and is the reason why we wanted to launch a branch of Women in Planning in this area.

The event was kindly sponsored by David Lock Associates a Milton Keynes based muti-disciplinary planning and design practice. The WiP South Midlands Branch cannot stress enough how invaluable this sponsorship and early support was for our launch event.

We are already at work organising our next event so please ensure that you are signed up to our mailing list and following us on social media!

Suzi Green,  South Mids Branch Committee Member and Graduate Planner at Bidwells

event write up

Thank you for joining Women in Planning London at our Summer Social – 26 July 2018

Thank you to everyone who joined Women in Planning London at The Paternoster on the 26 July 2018 at our annual Summer Social.

We were glad to meet old and new contacts in planning.

We are extremely grateful to Real Rec for sponsoring the evening and supporting the network. Congratulations to the winners of the prize draw Daniella Marocco and Charlotte Morphet.

Look out for details of our next event on 4 September 2018 coming soon!

For more photos please follow us on Facebook at WOMENINPLANNINGUK

event write up, North West committee

Challenging the Convention: The Future of Housing

Women in Planning North West were delighted to welcome a number of our members to our third event of our inaugural year kindly hosted and sponsored by Cushman and Wakefield on 28 June. The theme for the evening was Challenging the Convention: The Future of Housing – exploring different ways to deliver the ambitious Government target of 300,000 homes per year.

The evening was introduced by Rhian Davitt-Jones, Senior Consultant at Cushman and Wakefield and Vice Chair of Women in Planning North West.

Caroline Baker, Head of Cushman and Wakefield’s Manchester Office, kicked off by providing an overview of the housing market in Manchester City centre and its surrounds, which is showing positive indications following an increase in completions in 2017. Caroline’s key message was that: Increasing housing completions is not rocket science but requires a number of different ingredients including: willing developers such as registered providers (example New Charter Homes, Summers Quay development in Stalybridge) and disruptors – innovators that do things in a difference way (example Place First, Welsh Streets in Liverpool); building in a variety of locations and types of houses such as in town centres; and offering a range of new homes for a variety of occupiers including the over 55s.

Dr. Paul Jones, Director at Capital and Centric Developments explained how new challengers’ such as Capital and Centric are seeking to challenge the convention of housing. Following an outline of some of Capital and Centric’s exiting new schemes and the innovative programme Regeneration Brainery for young people, Paul presented their exciting concept for affordable, cool houses for people: the Nowhaus. The Nowhaus seeks to make best use of land with high density, low rise, well-designed spacious affordable homes. The concept goes further than bricks and mortar with facilities for the community such as car sharing and secure bike parking.

Danielle Gillespie, General Manager North West, Homes England explained that the clear remit of Homes England is to be a disruptor to accelerate the delivery of new homes through intervention and diversification of the market. Homes England are proposing to operationalise these targets and the agency sees itself as a master developer bringing forward large sites. Nicola Elsworth, Head of Public Sector Land in the North West at Homes England explained that the agency is intervening where there is the greatest housing need and where the market won’t go by acquiring sites, de-risking them and funding essential infrastructure to unlock the potential of these sites.

The key messages to come out of the panel discussion were:

• The issue of house building is not just down to land but the capacity to build and new ways of building need to be put into practice – Homes England are in discussion with the Government about the training and skills required.

• Start to see Homes England coming into play more in housing delivery.

• The housing crisis is not going to be solved by traditional housebuilders. There is a need for disruptors and innovators who will challenge the convention of housing and contribute to the ambitious delivery targets.

During the panel Q & A speakers were also asked to offer some career advice to others in the planning and development sector. Their tips were to just go for a promotion/ new job even if you don’t meet all the job criteria, push yourself, be bold, have a go and keep a record of work that you do.

We are extremely grateful for all of our speakers.

We look forward to seeing you at our forthcoming events a Walking Tour on 20th September and a Mock Inquiry/training day on 5th October.

event write up

Thank you for joining Women in Planning London and Dentons – 19 June 2018

Thank you to everyone who joined Women in Planning London and Dentons on the 19 June 2018 at our third event of the ‘When Women Plan London’ series. The theme for this evening event was ‘Unlocking growth through infrastructure’ and it was well attended by professionals across the public and private sector. We are extremely grateful to Dentons for hosting and sponsoring this event.
The event was introduced by Rachael Herbert, planning lawyer at Dentons and Vice Chair of the Women in Planning London Committee.
Cynthia Bowen, President of the American Planning Association, then delivered a presentation on the American experience, focussing on the potential that infrastructure projects have to unlock housing, affordable housing, employment growth, green space and create new communities such was the case with the Atlanta BeltLine, which started of as a university student’s thesis. There were however similar challenges shared between the UK and the US which include community involvement and funding for large scale projects although in some instances cities are actively voting to raise taxes in support of infrastructure delivery. The Minneapolis- St Paul line was a prime example of this where engagement with communities was used well to enhance the green line to add more stations to its route.
The topic was then discussed by our esteemed all female panel:
  1. Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI (formerly CEO of Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation)
  2. Caroline Taylor, Commercial Specialist, Delivery Unit of the Infrastructure & Projects Authority
  3. Caroline Foster, Senior Development Manager at Urban & Civic
  4. Cynthia Bowen, President of the American Planning Association
with James Drinan, chief executive of the American Planning Association, moderating the discussion.
Some of the key takeaway points from the panel discussion include:
  • Improvements to journey times through better transport infrastructure will change people’s working and commuting lifestyles looking at Manchester, Birmingham and Cambridge
  • Community engagement is important for discussions but important not to change the narrative for development
  • Important for planners to think about place making which will have a positive future impact on health and well being if people can walk and cycle to their jobs, services and facilities
  • Important to reach out to the future generations to involve them in infrastructure decisions that will have an impact on their lifestyle. The APA are working with local high schools and have published an illustrated book targeting younger generations to think about places.
We look forward to seeing you at our next event – the Summer Social on 26 July 2018.

End photoPanel discussion


NEW EVENT: London Summer Social @ The Paternoster, St Pauls – 26 July 2018

Our annual Summer Social is not one to be missed! Join Women in Planning London for drinks, nibbles, and networking at The Paternoster, St Pauls.

Women in Planning is an inclusive network and bookings are open to all planning and built environment professionals. Non-members (including male professionals) are also welcome.

Our social events offer a great opportunity to meet new people and network with those from similar professional backgrounds. Spaces are limited therefore booking is essential…don’t miss out!

This event is free to attend but booking is essential.

Date: 26 July 2018

Time: 18:00 to close

Venue: The Paternoster, 2-4 Queens Head Passage, Paternoster Square, London, EC4M 7DZ

Book via the following link https://wiplanningldnsummersocial2018.eventbrite.co.uk

This event is kindly sponsored by:

Events, networking, North West committee

North West Event – Challenging Convention: The Future of Housing? – 28 June 2018 – Book Now!


Join Women in Planning North West for an evening of interesting debate and discussion on ‘Challenging Convention: The Future of Housing?’  on the 28 June 2018 at Cushman & Wakefield. The event has been organised to coincide with the CIH Housing Conference 2018 in Manchester.

Hear from our expert panel of speakers:

Caroline Baker, Partner Cushman & Wakefield – Caroline Baker is a Partner and Head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Manchester office and last year celebrated working for C&W/DTZ in Manchester for 20 years. She advises a range of clients in the North West, on all aspects of development issues ranging in scale from sub-regional to site specific. Caroline’s strength lies in her ability to draw upon the market advice provided from our property sector specialists and incorporate this into strategies that support development. She specialises in residential development advice including strategy and development advice to local authorities, as well as overseeing market analysis to support landowners and housebuilders to understand local markets, pricing products and target occupiers. She often advises on emerging markets including PRS and Town Centres.

Louise Wyman, Head of Strategy, Homes England – Louise is Head of Strategy at Homes England, responsible for increasing the supply of well-designed homes in great places across England. Louise is a Planning Committee Member for London Legacy Development Corporation and was previously an Executive Director of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation. Louise is a Chartered Surveyor and a Landscape Architect experienced at working with the public and private sector to deliver award winning projects. Louise is an Ambassador for Harvard University’s Design School supporting the exchange of planning, design and development innovation between academia and industry.

Paul Jones, Development Manager Capital & Centric – Paul works for Capital and Centric, leading on the delivery of NOWHAUS, a design led suburban housing solution. Previously at Urban Splash, Paul has worked on a number of design led residential and commercial urban regeneration and property development projects in the North West of England. A chartered planning and development surveyor since 2004, Paul was also awarded a Professional Doctorate in the field of the Built Environment by the University of Salford in 2017.

For more details and to book please click here.


London Event: Unlocking growth through infrastructure – 19 June 2018 – Book Now

Join Women in Planning London for the latest instalment in the When Women Plan London Event series – Unlocking growth through infrastructureon Tuesday 19 June 2018. The event is kindly sponsored and hosted by Dentons.

Cynthia Bowen, President of the American Planning Association, will deliver a keynote address on the American experience before the topic is discussed by all female expert panel including:

  1.  Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI (and formerly CEO of Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation)
  2. Caroline Taylor, Commercial Specialist, Delivery Unit of the Infrastructure & Projects Authority
  3. Caroline Foster , Senior Development Manager at Urban & Civic

Date: 19 June 2018

Location: Dentons, One Fleet Street, London, EC4M 7RA

Event format & Timings:

17:15 – Event registration and networking

18:00 – Keynote address by Cynthia Bowen, President of the American Planning Association

18:20 – Panel discussion

18:55 – Q&A with the audience

19:00 – 20:00 – Networking and drinks

20:00 – Close

For more information and to book your place, please follow this link to our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/when-women-plan-london-unlocking-growth-through-infrastructure-tickets-41419833838

Kindly sponsored and hosted by:

event write up

Thank you for joining Women in Planning London and Future Cities Catapult – 17 May 2018

Thank you to everyone who joined Women in Planning London and Future Cities Catapult on the 17 May 2018 at our second event of the ‘When Women Plan London’ series. The theme for this breakfast event was ‘Digital Innovation and Technology’ and was well attended by students and professionals across the public and private sector. We are extremely grateful to Future Cities Catapult for hosting and sponsoring this event.

The theme aimed to explore the impact of data, digital innovation and technological advancements that have or will change the built environment sector. Our expert panel were asked to give a 7-minute presentation to showcase their work and what they’ve been involved in, whilst also providing an insight into where the future of the sector lies amidst the technological revolution.

The morning opened with an introduction to event by Women in Planning London Committee Member Nissa Shahid, followed by welcome address from Erin Walsh of Future Cities Catapult. Erin gave a presentation on how she moved from planning to Plantech and the journey that brought her here. She also gave an overview into the work the Future Cities Catapult have done. This was followed by our four panellists showcasing their work in planning and technology.

Michelle Warbis from Future Cities Catapult gave an overview of her journey from the Greater London Authority to the Future Cities Catapult, and how her work with digital planning notices has evolved into a working prototype while Fran Bennet from Mastadon C gave an overview of the work that her team have done in using data science to overcome and resolve civic problems.

Ekaterina Lichtenstein from Project Imagine relayed her journey from the Built Environment sector to fintech and gave us five lessons that she learnt from the move that could apply to using tech in the built environment. Kadine James from Hobs Studio gave us a case-study demo on how 3D could assist in consultation, demonstrating examples of augmented reality and virtual reality to the audience.

This was followed by a Q&A session where the importance of adopting technology was discussed.





Solent Launch Party – 24 May 2018 @ Slug & Lettuce, Winchester

We are delighted to announce the launch of Women in Planning Solent. Join us on 24 May to hear Aaron Wright, Planning Manager for Barratt David Wilson Homes, talk about trip to India where she was involved in delivering housing.

Time: 18:00 – 21:00

Date: 24 May 2018

Venue: Slug & Lettuce, 12-13 The Square, Winchester SO23 9ES


18:00 -18:30 – Registration and networking

18:30 – 19:30 – Delivering housing in India, Aaron Wright, Planning Manager for Barratt David Wilson Homes

19:30 -21:00 – Networking, drinks and nibbles

It is free to attend but booking is essential. Click here to reserve your place.

This event is kindly sponsored by Barratt David Wilson Homes.



London Event – When Women Plan London – Digital Innovation and Technology in Planning – 17 May 2018

The rise of data, digital innovation and technology have upturned and disrupted various industries, from finance to social services to healthcare, making them faster, more efficient and smarter. With innovation occurring in all these sectors, there is a presumption that planning, and the built environment is being left behind.

We have gathered some of the leading women in the planning and technology sector who are showing us that this is not the case. We will be hearing how digital disruption and innovation is occurring at all levels of planning and related sectors and how planning is fast catching up with embracing and utilising technology to help us plan better.

Date: Thursday, 17th May 2018

Time: 8:30 am – 10:00 am

Location: Future City Catapult Urban Innovation Centre, Future Cities Catapult, 1 Sekforde Street, London, EC1R 0BE.


8.00 am – Registration  &  networking

8.30 am – Welcome address Stef Webb – Future Cities Catapult

8.40 am – Presentations and panel discussion, chaired by Nissa Shahid from Women in Planning London and Future Cities Catapult

9.20 am – Q&A

9.45 am – Networking

10:15 am – Finish


Nissa Shahid, Women in Planning London and Futures Cities Catapult

Michelle Warbis – Future Cities Catapult

More to be announced!

Click here to book.

Kindly sponsored hosted by:



Are networking events for everyone?

Within planning consultancy’s networking is generally encouraged and I regularly enjoy attending planning events with other colleagues. However, after inviting some old colleagues to a planning event, it made me realise that there is unwillingness for some planners, particularly within local authorities, to attend social planning events in London.

After chatting with friends who work as planning officers within local authorities it is clear that networking events can carry a stigma as being just for ‘private planners’. I know from experience there is reluctance to attend networking events for fear of being targeted by consultants and the intimidation of not knowing anyone. Because of this, I used to avoid organised planning events or try and leave as soon as the ‘networking’ drinks began.

This led me to question what actually happens at planning networking events and whether these events can be beneficial to planners in all sectors.

When I first started as a junior planner working for a local authority, the thought of going to networking events after work seemed intimidating and uninteresting. There was the fear that I knew too little about the profession to join in with conversations or that nobody would be interested in what I had to say. Furthermore, I didn’t understand what benefits networking with other planners would give me.

I got dragged to my first networking event by a colleague, it was a summer social event and she persuaded me with the promise of free drinks and a chance to make some new friends. Upon arrival I realised that there was a real mix people, including public/private planners, urban designers, students and researchers. Of course there were people who knew each other, however, people seemed friendly, approachable and open to chat and meet new people.

Following this I began attending more planning events, where I made new friends and new contacts as a result. Personally, I used these events as an opportunity to informally chat with planners about their experiences and to learn more about the different opportunities in planning, not only to find out what planning consultants did on a daily basis!

I find that these events, particularly Women in Planning events, can also be a great way to chat in a relaxed environment with often inspirational and influential people in planning, of which you may not otherwise meet.

Having had a chat with two of my colleagues, it is clear that they also felt networking events were daunting but beneficial for different reasons. As an international planner from Australia, Analeise attended planning events in order to make friends in a new country and expand her knowledge of the UK planning system.

For my colleague Chris, who has worked in both the public and private planning sectors, he considers that attending organised planning events broadens his knowledge on how both sectors operate. Chris considers that often ‘insular attitudes’ in both sectors can prevent planners from understanding each other and these events help break barriers and can create a more positive relationship between sectors.

Among planning consultants networking events are generally acknowledged as being beneficial for expanding contacts and improving communication skills; however, I think they can certainly be beneficial for all sectors for different reasons.

For those who want to get involved, it’s important to know that these events are attended by a variety of professionals in all sectors, including students and people who just have an interest in planning. The majority of people there have no specific agenda other than to make new friends, learn new skills or even just to have a glass of wine and chat with interesting and like-minded people after a day at work.

For people, like myself, who would like to make use of networking events but feel intimated by them, why not drag a friend or colleague along for confidence, or grab a drink and introduce yourself to a couple of people following a talk, you never know what you might gain as a result.

By Tiffany Mallen, member of the Women in Planning London Committee.



Pressing for Progress

As part of IWD I reflected on a few experiences from my working life. Progess? Yes…..but.

I started work in the late 1980s. There was no equalities training at my Council. No HR guidance to speak. An elderly, male, white colleague used to ask, when interviewing young women, ‘what does your husband do?’

 Definitely progress here, in my world this just would not happen now. But is that universal? I don’t think so.

A recent YouGov survey, for the Equalities and Human Rights Council, reported that of 1,106 senior decision-makers, a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable to ask, in the recruitment process, about a woman’s plans to have children in the future.

59% said she should have to disclose if she is pregnant and 46% said it was reasonable to ask a woman if she had small children. Which all implies that this would form part of their decision making process on whether to offer a woman a job.

44% of employers believed women should work for an organisation for at least a year before deciding to have children – can you believe that? All a bit Handmaid’s Tale with employers wanting to exert control over our bodies and fertility.

When pregnant with my first child I asked to come back on a job share basis. My boss, and the Council, saw it as a good thing, not a liberty, not a nuisance, but good working practice.

I know I was fortunate enough to have an economic choice. I was able to reduce my salary by 2/5ths, not everyone can.

My Job Share partner and I both worked 3 days a week (so there was a small cost). We did our job share for 10 years – an arrangement which enabled us to spend more time at home whilst continuing our career and of course our pension contributions (another area where women are affected more than men).

Not only continue our careers, but progress in them too. We applied, as one, for a promotion to be Head of a Service at another Council, a position we got. But it was an interesting experience. Between us we could ace that job; we had complementary skills, and together were a powerful combination. But we were very much seen not as one, but as two. Although the two of us would be doing one job, we had to both cover all the PS requirements – they weren’t looking at whether together we could do the job, but whether we could individually do the job. So we had to come first and second in the scoring. We did. But it doesn’t make it easy for a partnership like that to thrive and develop – would this approach give the impression that you can’t easily progress your career in a job share? Perhaps.

In terms of working in planning as a profession, I don’t think men and women have different attitudes or approaches. Planning tends to attract people with quite a caring and positive, want to negotiate, mindset. My male and female colleagues don’t approach their work differently. Some people might think that negotiation and compromise are more female than male traits, but I don’t see any evidence of that.

In terms of representation, there seem to be more male than female planners – including here – but we are closer to parity than in other built environment professions (38% of the chartered members of the RTPI are female). Although RIBA and RICS have both had female presidents recently, women are far less well represented in those professions.

But that’s not to say that male and female planners have the same experiences. Local authority planners have to tell architects/agents that there is a problem with their scheme. We have to be assertive and confident. Some female colleagues report being patronised, and perhaps on the end of more bullying tactics or conversations than perhaps our male counterparts do?

For me, personally, two #metoo moments spring to mind. Both around 5-8 years. I had a phone conference when I was working at home on a sunny day. The phone call (3 of us, one an immediate colleague and one an older, started with, of course, a chat about the weather. When I said I was working at home he said ‘I’m imagining you in your garden in a bikini’. He thought it was just friendly chitter chatter, but is was so not, so completely inappropriate.

The other instance was an industry awards event, at a London hotel, wine was flowing. This different older, male asked me if I wanted to get a room upstairs. I didn’t. I subsequently found out he had propositioned quite a few women.

Earlier I referred to the interview question. No one called the man out on it. And neither did I in my metoo moments, and it is a source of shame and regret that I didn’t.

Neither of these men were my boss, they couldn’t immediately make me lose my income. But I’m a reasonably successful, confident, woman, and didn’t feel able to pull these men up. There are so many other women who are (or feel) intimidated in work. But I also know of women who have taken cases up and lived to regret it because the consequences have been severe.

Progress? Well maybe the #MeToo movement is a step change. I hope so.

Two years ago on IWD I was at a conference hosted by the Planning Inspectorate. The outgoing, male, Chief Exec said in opening the conference that he was delighted to announce, on IWD, that the new, incoming CEx was a woman. Great. But there was not one woman speaker or panel member scheduled that day. I tweeted about the irony of this on IWD (not that it would have been right on any day), and lo, that afternoon, there was a female panel member. She didn’t have a name plate of course because she was a last minute after-thought.

Women’s visibility, and opportunities to speak are important.

If we aren’t visible on speaking platforms we will perpetuate the idea that women are few and far between, and have nothing worth saying. It shows the younger generation that we are here and have opinions. There has been some progress here, women are represented as speakers at Planning conferences (although still underrepresented, the next National Planning Summit has 34 speakers/ panel members, 11 are women). And Women in Planning are doing great work increasing the visibility of women planners.

 But some women pay a high price for speaking out (generally). They can be shot down, in horribly abusive ways. For daring to suggest that there might be a woman on the £10 note, for being a clever academic on Question Time who has long hair and doesn’t wear make up, or being outspoken about Parliament’s right to vote on Brexit. And the language often used to describe women who speak publicly – shrill, we shriek, whine and whinge. Well doesn’t that trivialise what we have to say? Those words are never used against males. They are authoritative, passionate. Even Boris Johnson’s most laughable performances are bumbling. Compare that to the treatment that Diane Abbott gets over a bad interview.

So whether it is at a planning conference, Question Time or a comedy panel show, women need to have fair representation. We are present, we have things to say, and we will be heard.

By Alice Lester, Head of Planning at London Borough of Brent



event write up, North West committee

Plan Your Career: The Nine Pieces of Key Advice Every Professional Needs to Hear

Jill Bell – Chair | Women in Planning North West

Sara Todd – Deputy Chief Executive | Manchester City Council
Victoria Hessen – Managing Director | Gladman Developments
Rob Haslam – Planning Director | Savills
Vicky Hughes – Head of Town Planning | Blayze Group

The packed-out event featured those fresh onto the Planning scene as well as some more experienced professionals, all eager to hear advice from inspirational speakers from across both the private and public Planning sector. Jill, Chair of WIP NW, kicked off the evening by laying out the objective of the evening; to encourage all those who attend to achieve their goals, whatever their goals might be: “it might not be reaching the top, it might even be reaching the end of the week, or overcoming a small personal challenge.” Following Jill was Sara who discussed her role in City Council during the devastating Manchester terrorist attack in May, and how her experience and knowledge gained over her career had informed her action. Sara also shared advice gained from her career in the public sector. Victoria followed, discussing the lessons learnt in her career to reach Managing Director of Gladman Developments from her MA in Town & Regional Planning. Vicky and Rob teamed up for the closing session, Vicky using her insight of working with Planning organisations for the past fifteen years and Rob with his experience working in both the public and private sectors.

1. “People will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

Sara Todd emphasised how important it is to be kind and understanding in the workplace and how key it is to recognise when a co-worker needs to talk, and to put everything down to accommodate that. Victoria followed up on this with “having a sense of humour and being kind are two of the most important things I’ve learnt in my career.”

2. Relax!

Victoria Hessen highlighted the significance of not worrying about where your career is going; “more often than not, if you work really hard, things will happen in the right way to you.” Victoria recounted reading every ‘business book’ she could get her hands on, and how, when she came across the advice “serious women in business don’t wear cardigans” she thought it was time to give them a miss!

3. ‘Imposter Syndrome’

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is that nagging doubt in your head that you can’t do something, that we’ve all experienced. Victoria’s response to this is “call yourself out! You’ve earned your right to be here!” The panel also agreed that people are rarely born with confidence, but it can be learnt over time perhaps with the help of a mentor, which will be essential when it comes to selling yourself in a job interview.

4. Write Your Goals Down

“Writing your goals down will make them seem more real to you and then you’ll be more likely to go on and achieve it”, Victoria emphasised. Begin with the “end” in mind, then formulate a plan around how you’re going to get there. Continually reviewing your goals is also important; they may change or the route to get there may adjust (and that’s fine!) Whether they’re small goals you want to achieve by the end of the week, or larger goals you want to achieve in the next decade!

5. Feedback is Key

Vicky Hughes expressed how essential feedback is from all angles (your manager and your peers) in your Learning & Development journey; “if you can be critical of yourself, although it can be difficult, it’s incredible what you will learn. Asking for feedback is imperative for your progression. If you are able to do this, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position.”

6. Word of the Evening: Mentor

Mentoring was a consistent thread throughout the whole evening or, as Rob Haslam calls them, ‘Career Crushes’. “Find someone whose job you’d love to do,” says Rob, “take them for a cup of tea! No one is too mature for career coaches.” Rob was keen to point out that mentors are not just for professionals just starting out, but for all levels of experience; Rob has known Senior Management, including Chief Executives, who have mentors “as the learning journey doesn’t finish.” The entire panel also concurred that a mentor outside of your business, and even outside of your specific sector, would provide fresh insight onto your progress.

7. Take Control

Remember, you can’t control everything; “you can’t force your employer to promote you and you can’t force your employer to give you a pay rise. Look at what you can control and focus on that. Take personal responsibility for your career – it’s you who decides how you want it to pan out.” Rob followed on from Vicky to point out “as a manager, employees who are willing to look at new areas of work and develop new projects are of great benefit to me.”

8. Personal Brand

Vicky Hughes: “perception is everything and you can influence it – you need to understand what everyone’s perception of you is to inform your development in the future. Finding out what makes you unique is essential to this; what is your differentiator and how will this benefit your employer?”

9. Time Management

During the Q&A towards the end of the session, an attendee, someone who Rob has previously managed, described a time management technique that Rob has recommended to her; “separate your tasks into categories and then block out time to complete them. Keep your e-mail shut when you’re focusing on a task and work out when your most productive hours are; if it’s in the morning, do the strategically-focused tasks then.” Sara also shared how she always took half an hour for lunch to regain headspace from the day which is always blocked out by her secretary.

“It’s okay to enjoy the job you’re in! You don’t always have to think about the next thing – it’s as simple as that! Your goal doesn’t always have to be reaching the top, it could be about reaching the end of the week, or reaching your dream project.”

*Blayze Group are proud to support Women in Planning. As a values-first recruitment consultancy, our priority is to ensure the best outcome for our clients and candidates always.

By  from Blayze Group

This article was first published on Blayze Groups website – click here to view.


Women in Planning Official

Women in Planning Committee members included on RTPI The Planner’s Women of Influence list 2018

The Planner’s Women of Influence 2018 has been published to mark International Women’s Day on the 08 March. The list includes incredible women from across the planning profession. Women in Planning are very proud to announce that members of our Committee Branches and Co-Founders have been included:

Jill Bell MRTPI – chair of Women in Planning in the North West and consultant with HGH Consulting.

Mary Fortune MRTPI – chair of Women in Planning, London and senior planner with Savills.

Emma Langmaid MRTPI – chair of Women in Planning South Wales and director of Prospero Planning.

Alison Mackay MRTPI – co-founder of Women in Planning and senior planner with Colliers International; active with RTPI London.

Charlotte Morphet MRTPI – co-founder of the expanding Women in Planning network and principal policy planner at the London Borough of Waltham Forest; RTPI General Assembly member.

Sarah Reid – planning barrister with Kings Chambers, with a particular specialism in highways law; mentor to colleagues at Kings and board member of Women in Planning North West.

See the full list of inspiration women here: https://www.theplanner.co.uk/features/the-planners-women-of-influence-2018

event write up

Deeds for not words – How we Press for Progress

The theme for International Women’s Day this year was #pressingforprogress. It is a strong call for action for 2018, to make sure we “press forward and progress for gender parity[1] by motivating everyone to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Women in Planning London celebrated the day by attending the Suffragettes exhibition ‘Votes for Women’ at the Museum of London. It was great to have attendees from the committee and membership to celebrate the day.


The exhibition was a celebration of the sacrifices these brave women made to ensure that some women had the vote through an insightful documentary. I recommend every woman visits and watches the documentary.

What I took away from the visiting was that to press for progress we need to find out inner Suffragettes. Words around gender equality are great but we need deeds.  Deeds like the Diversity Pledge set up the Future of London and speaker networks like Women Talk Real Estate. We need more initiatives like this in planning and related professions to press for progress.

Charlotte Morphet, Co-Founder Women in Planning.

[1] https://www.internationalwomensday.com



International Women’s Day – Striving for greater levels of gender parity in Planning

In the last year we have seen more exposure to strong global movements for gender equality across various professions, with the launch of #MeToo and #TimesUp we have witnessed how powerful women can be when they come together to be heard. In similar spirit this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) is also focusing on the issue of gender parity, motivating us all to #PressforProgress in our chosen professions.  So, there is no doubt that this year’s IWD will continue to be an important one!

That’s not to say the planning profession, hasn’t pushed for gender parity up until now. The current Chief Executive Trudi Elliot has made this her mission through out her leadership of the Institute. Even still within the Institute, women only make up approximately 38% of the total membership.[1]  More generally, women are becoming increasingly prominent in planning and, better still, more women are in senior positions within the profession and talent is being retained.

However gender parity can, and should, go further.

Case in point: the 2017 membership survey conducted by the Institute revealed that one-in-four women see gender inequality as a barrier to their professional development or their career progression. Greater numbers of women in planning means nothing if they cannot be supported to develop and progress in their careers, whether those are senior leadership roles or just getting more responsibility at work. This is why the North West Branch’s next event is so important as it focuses on “Planning your Career” and providing support to women working in the planning profession.

We must to continue to identify and remove the barriers that women face, especially in our profession. Alongside that, we should continue to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in planning. In turn, women’s visibility and prominence will rise even further – truly levelling the playing field.

We can only achieve that through embedding inclusion and equality of opportunity into everything we do; planning and the built environment will benefit as a result.

This is something that Women in Planning is striving for.  Our Proud of Women series has been the first step on our journey to improving the visibility and prominence of women within our profession.  Moving forwards our latest series, When Women Plan London, will highlight the women’s achievements in planning, as well as focusing on how women have been instrumental in helping shape the city in which we live.

Women in Planning are also proud to say we are involved with three IWD events, two of which are in London and the third being Manchester expanding our visibility within planning.

[1] http://www.rtpi.org.uk/about-the-rtpi/

Nissa Shahid
Nissa Shahid

Urbanist at Future Cities Catapult and member of the Women in Planning London Committee.


Article, event write up, Women in Planning Official

Building a Britain Fit for the Future – The Launch of the Revised NPPF


Women in Planning committee members were delighted to attended the revised National Planning Policy Framework  launch in London on Monday. Below they each reflect on the day and what it means for the profession.

Ellie Gingell, Chair of South Midlands Branch


“In the South Midlands, we were keen to hear where the new Garden Towns on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor were going to be located. Unfortunately, we still have to wait for the final announcements.

However, Plan making, including strategic plans, was very much on the agenda through the speeches and into the technical sessions afterward. Even the transitional arrangements (the time in which Local Authorities have to get a plan in place) which, may at first seem strict- a mere 6 months- were defended by Steve Quartermain who was very clear that we’ve had long enough to understand government thinking and their intentions and act accordingly. This will, of course, prove challenging for but is probably a very large carrot disguised as a stick when you reflect on the proposed changes as a whole, for example the Housing Delivery Test.

Pondering the day on the train home, the speeches, the amusing memes of Thomas the Tank engine that filled the twitter feed, the strong voices for and those against, and with International Womens Day just around the corner it seemed somewhat apt to reflect on the words of suffragette Lucy Stone:

“Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things”.

It is, after all, a consultation- which is our opportunity to be heard as planning professionals.”

Alison Mackay, Co-Founder

Alison Photo

“It was a very busy day for the Planning profession. Prime Minster Theresa May kick started the launched the consultation of the eagerly anticipated updated National Planning Policy Framework, setting the future for planning policy.

With a focus on housing delivery, I am looking forward to reading the consultation document in full but the take home messages from the day were:

1) Greater protection of the Green Belt and ensuring Local Planning Authorities can firmly justify its release;
2) Emphasis on high density with the power to refuse schemes of too lower density and
3) Monitoring of Local Plans to ensure they deliver their adopted strategic visions with consequences for Local Planning Authorities that fail to do so”

Charlotte Morphet, Co-Founder 

Charlotte Morphet Young Planner of the Year Photo

“I thought the presence of the Prime Minster at the launch of the National Planning Policy Framework mark 2 was positive. It really showed how far as a profession we have come in the Government eyes. It was also good to have the presence of the Secretary of State. We have moved on from being the enemies of enterprise to important profession and process in the delivery of housing.

I am reserving judgement on the content of the consultation documents until I have read them all; but I can be certain of one thing, Local Planning Authorities need more resources to deliver the Governments ambitions plans for homes and communities.”

Sara Sweeney, London Branch Committee member

Sara Sweeney

“It certainly was not an average Monday hearing about the proposed revisions to the NPPF first-hand from the Prime Minster and the Secretary of State.

What I took from the day was that the ultimate aspiration of the Government is to build a Britain that is fit for purpose and that means delivering the right homes, in the right places. As a Planner with a particular passion for strategic planning and the delivery of housing, I welcome many of the proposed revisions to help streamline the plan-making process (after all this is supposed to be a plan-led system) but I will reserve judgement until I’ve holistically read the consultation documents and considered the implications on the ground.

Albeit, the Developer in me feels massively underwhelmed and under attack. Developers will continue to “step up” to build homes, but in my opinion the anti-developer culture needs to change as the industry is not to blame for the housing crisis. I can attest that I have never been asked to promote a site for housing or submit a planning application with the intention to “sit on the land and watch the value rise”. There needs to be some realism here, the development industry does not operate within a vacuum that is not exposed to wider economic factors. Stable economic conditions create the environment in which developers can deliver more homes. No private sector entity would be expected to deliver without profit and it should be no different for the development industry.”

The consultation proposals can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website (click here). 

Events, networking, North West committee

Plan- Your Career with our North West Branch – 8 March


Picture1Whether you are a student at the start of your career, or are unsure how to achieve your current career goals, whatever they may be, join Women in Planning North West  for an interactive and practical session on how to develop and progress your career, sponsored by Blayze Group with leading Planning and Recruitment Executives.

Hear from and be inspired by influential women representing both the public and private sectors of the profession (Speakers to be confirmed very shortly), followed by Rob Haslam from Savills and representatives from Blayze leading a session on confidence building and how to achieve what you would you would like to achieve from your career.

Date: 8 March 2018

Time: 18:00 – 20:30

Location: Blayze Group Business Lounge, 53 King Street, Manchester, M2 4LQ

Price: Free but booking is essential.

Click here to book. 


Join us to celebrate a special International Women’s Day in London 08 March 2018

IWD - London 2018

To celebrate international women’s day this year, we thought we would do something a bit different. We, here at the London Branch, wanted to celebrate the amazing work of Suffragettes, so join us as we visit the “Votes for Women” exhibition at Museum of London.


Price: FREE

Date: 08 March 2018
Address: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
Time: 16:00 to 20:00
Start: 16:00: visit exhibition until 18:00 close.
18:00: Meet for a drink at London Wall Bar and Kitchen
Finish: 20:00
Booking: There is no need to book.

If you want to attend, meet us in the foyer of the Museum of London at 16:00. Look for the Women in Planning sign that one of the London Committee will be holding.

If you can’t make the exhibition but want to meet and talk with some amazing women join us for a drink at the London Wall Bar & Kitchen after.

Exhibition details are available at the following link:


 We look forward to seeing you there!


Leadership in Planning

By Anna Rose,  Head of the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) at Local Government Association

For me, great leaders have vision, the better ones also work hard to make sure that there is a shared understanding of how to make that vision a reality.

This isn’t just true of local government but it is particularly relevant. There are great political and officer leads who can orate their enthusiasm for a firmly held vision to audiences far and wide. Of these leaders there are also some who can engage their own groups and teams. It is critical in local government that there is a shared understanding of how to realise the vision as there are a myriad of differing concerns, priorities and agendas to work with.

So good leadership is about so much more than vision, its effectiveness is reliant on communication. If a local planning authority (LPA) is the delivery arm of a leader’s vision they need to believe in and take responsibility for its delivery. Without this shared understanding the vision is just that, a vision.

This may sound a little philosophical but I worry that ‘leadership’ is a word that is used as frequently as ‘amazing’ and is similarly misused to complement other characteristics or attributes that whilst commendable are not leadership.

For LPA’s, the need for a leader or leaders who have a clear vision is evident. Many local plans are created in the absence of an overall vision for the place that is being planned. Decisions are taken without consideration of a desired outcome for anything other than that application. Is it any wonder that things don’t always go to plan?

If your destination keeps changing, you may get there but it will take a long time and you will travel further. Ring any bells?

For LPAs, it is essential that the political and officer leads articulate a desired outcome from the outset rather than changing this according to the most recent decision or consultation. This does not negate the positive influence of flexibility but it does ensure that there is a point of stability to test any new ideas against. It is the ‘spotting point’ when you are spinning. It is extremely difficult to remember the purpose of a plan or process if an iterative approach to the outcome is taken.

Leaders need to prioritise. Where this is done well it makes a HUGE difference to not only the productivity of the LPA but also the morale and wellbeing of the team. Public services adapt to the situation that they are put in but this can be handled so much better when there is leadership to guide the activity. This is as much about what to continue doing as it is about stopping. Teams that know what is expected of them will take responsibility for delivering it, the opposite is also true.

So, for me, an iterative vision leads to changing priorities and therefore inconsistency. Good leadership works on the basis of no surprises. Honesty and trust is a massive part of this. LPAs with effective leadership know how to deal with issues as they arise as they understand how their leaders wish them to operate. The absence of this understanding is usually built up from a history of inconsistent approaches and decisions at a leadership level. Inconsistency in leadership leads to inconsistency in service delivery.

Inconsistency inside an LPA reflects directly onto the community and customers of the Council. This leads to a poor reputation, built around a lack of trust and confidence. A poor reputation once gained is very hard to lose.

LPAs that know what they are working towards and how to get there are more effective and efficient. They don’t have to spend time searching for the directions. Needless to say – this improves service delivery and saves money.

Responsibility can only be delegated once trust is established. Planners with responsibility have more fulfilment from their role. Good leadership allows for that responsibility to be handed around and a bond of trust is formed. Leaders are stronger when they trust their teams to deliver and teams are stronger when they are trusted.

So yes we need great leaders but let us all commit to using the term responsibly.

Follow Anna on Twitter @EPlanna 

This blog was adapted from a presentation Anna gave at Planning Future‘s talk on leadership in planning.