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


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). 

event write up, Events, networking

Thank you for joining Women in Planing and Farrells at our first event of 2018 – 10 January

Thank you to everyone who joined Women in Planning London and Farrells at our first event in the “When Women Plan London” series titled “Unlocking Delivery through good place-making and design” on the 10 January 2017.

We are very pleased that so many of you (circa 70) made it and of course a big thank you to Farrells for hosting and sponsoring the event.

The event was introduced by Rachael Herbert, our Vice Chair of the London Committee.

Sir Terry Farrell CBE, principal of Farrells and Royal Town Planning Institute Gold Medal winner, gave us a presentation on City Making and explained why there was a need for creative and thoughtful spatial and physical planning – not just reactive, policy-led planning.

Rachael Rooney, Strategic Planner Manager of the Greater London Authority, then followed with a presentation on the challenges currently facing London and how the Mayor seeks to combat these through the draft London Plan in terms of good growth principles and the Good Growth by Design Programme and Advocates.

The event topic was then discussed by our esteemed panel:

Led by Chairperson Katerina Karaga, Senior Urban Designer of Farrells.

One the big take homes from the panel discussion was how integral the people/community element is to place-making.

Who is the “place” going to attract and serve? Why are these people critical to the long-term success of the “place” and wider community? And how can the area be best designed to accommodate their existing and future needs?

We look forward to seeing you all at our next event. Details to follow soon.


event write up, Women in Planning Official

5 years of making Women visible in Planning

Image may contain: 10 people

On Monday evening, 4th December 2017, Women in Planning celebrated its 5th anniversary with a Christmas drinks reception, kindly sponsored by GVA and Osborne Richardson.

In her speech, our co-founder, Charlotte Morphet, reflected on the success of our last 5 years and set out the future direction of our network and where we see the role of women in planning. Charlotte reflected on the reason for setting up the network which was to make women visible in the planning world, noting that;

“Alison Mackay and I were looking for a networking forum that would work for us. We noticed at so many events most of the speakers and attendees were male, which we thought was strange because we knew there were lots of women working in planning.” 

Over the past 5 years, the network has achieved a great deal including an incredible ‘Proud of Women’ series of events which actively sought to make women working in planning at senior levels more visible and act as role models for women starting in the industry.

2017 has been an especially good year for us with the addition of two new Branches, one in South Wales, which launched in November 2017, and another launching in January 2018 in the North West of England.

Over the next 5 years, Women in Planning will be focusing on:

  • further growth across the UK with additional branches;
  • growing and diversify our membership base making sure it represents all women working in planning and development, at every level of their career;
  • creating a network which will empower and support our leading women so that the days of an all-male expert panel or leadership board are behind us;
  • creating a forum that provides for our members to make meaningful social and business connections and encourage them to share and support each other’s ambitions;
  • influence positive change in the workplace through targeted research, information sharing and membership surveys. We realise that greater efforts need to be made to strive for equality in the workplace, especially in terms of both pay and promotion. This starts with a better understanding of the industry baseline and what our members feel are the issues.

We thank you for being a part of our journey, whenever you may have joined and look forward to seeing you at our events in 2018. From all of us on the committee, thank you for your continued support. Seasons greetings.

event write up

Thank you for joining Women in Planning and CBRE Planning at our Summer Social Event – 13 July

Thank you to everyone who came along to our Summer Social event on the 13 July at CBRE’s beautiful roof top terrace overlooking St. Paul’s. We are very pleased that so many of you made it and of course a big thank you to CBRE for hosting and sponsoring the event.

The event was introduced by Mary Fortune, our Chair of the London Committee.

Alison Tero, a Senior Director in the Planning team, then gave us an introduction to the CBRE’s Women’s Network which is aimed at attracting and retaining talented women across the company with over 1000 members.

Lorraine Hughes, a Senior Director in the Planning team, followed to give us her top tips for a successful career:

  1. Go where you have a genuine interest
  2. Make the most of opportunities
  3. Network lots
  4. Be a team player
  5. Surround yourself with talent
  6. Have the right attitude
  7. Play to your strengths
  8. Be yourself
  9. Keep up to date
  10. Believe in yourself and your projects

We are lucky to be able to share Alison and Lorraine’s slides with you for those of you who could not make it. The slides can be accessed here: Women in Planning

We look forward to seeing you all at our next event!



Article, event write up

Housing White Paper: A Step in the Right Direction

The long awaited Housing White Paper (HWP) was published in February 2017. The Paper has been hotly debated since and we are still waiting for the outcome of the consultation.

Alice Lester MBE (Head of Planning, Transport and Licensing at Brent Council), Lorraine Hughes (Senior Director at CBRE), Sara Parkinson (Planning and Development Programme Director at London First) and Rachel Ferguson (Senior Planning Executive at Metropolitan Housing) joined us on the 11 April at Dentons‘ London office to provide their view on the HWP.


Whilst there are differing views on the HWP’s effectiveness, the panellists provided a useful insight sectors. The panellists largely agreed that, whilst the HWP is not perfect; it is a step in the right direction and it is one of the many steps that is needed to be taken to increase the delivery of homes across the UK. Hughes noted that, “the HWP is going in the right direction. There is a need to understand the barriers and harness the opportunities”.

Planning is not the panacea for housing

From the panellist’s perspective, there is a failure to fully recognise the economics of the situation. Basic supply and demand theory is too simplistic when applied to the housing market as the affordability of housing is not comparable to the affordability of other commodities such as groceries. This is because “people use housing as an investment” therefore bringing housing down to an affordable level could mean negative equity for many people.

The panel considered that the HWP does not appropriately address viability, in particular it lacks clarity on London’s position. The HWP also fails to recognise the gap between policy and available funding which often leads to the delayed delivery of sites. Little attention is paid to the importance of the plan-making stage, and the issues surrounding the Green Belt firmly remains the ‘elephant in the room’.

On the whole, the panel agreed that the answer to deliver significant levels of new homes is too complex to be simply the burden of the planning system alone and as Parkinson commented “Planning is not the panacea for delivering new housing”. The ‘solution’ is much wider and would need to incorporate economic variables, viability, and politics all of which have a significant influence on housing delivery.

Increased Planning Application Fees

Lester welcomed the proposed changes to planning application fees but emphasised that there is still likely to be disparity between the fees and the actual man hours employed by Development Control teams. Major planning applications often end up subsidising householder applications and unless the fees are right an increase of 20% will not make much difference. Lester considered that planning application fees are only one part of a wider problem. The other issues Local Planning Authorities are facing is a clear key skill shortage, especially at principal planner level.

Hughes and Parkinson indicated that their clients and members are likely to pay the suggested increased planning application fees, but only if there were tangible improvements in decision taking. Parkinson said however, that resources were also needed in policy to increase confidence in a plan-led approach.

Speeding up delivery

Whilst the panel accepted that the private sector has a role to play in speeding up delivery of new housing, Housing Associations and Local Authorities also have an important role in the delivering of new homes.

Ferguson noted that her residential delivery rates are often stalled by the time it takes to discharge conditions.  She highlighted that the time taken to clear conditions is often longer than anticipated and this impacts on the commencement date. Lester explained how this is an issue she is trying to address in her current role at LB Brent. Lester holds regular ‘condition workshops’ where officers have to justify use of non-standard conditions and are told to apply conditions with caution.


The hype around the Housing White Paper remains and there are certainly suggested measures which the built environment industry would welcome as a way to facilitate the increased delivery of new housing. As agreed at the event, the HWP cannot be a standalone mechanism and will need wider support from sectors outside planning in order to meet the housing targets.

We shall await the outcome of the government’s consultation on the paper to understand whether any of the above ideas area common themes within the wider industry.

We are grateful to our panellists for taking part in the event and of course to our sponsor and host, Dentons for their hospitality.


Sara Sweeney, Planning Manager at Kitewood



mary introduction and room full

mary introduction

panel in discussion 5

event write up

EVENT REVIEW: Christmas Social 2014

Women in Planning’s third annual Christmas event  took place on Thursday 11th December at Henry’s Café, Piccadilly. We know this is now a somewhat hazy distant memory.

It was great on the night to meet  new members and catch up with existing members. It was especially great to welcome students from UCL the Bartlett School of Planning and we encourage all students to join us at event over the course of 2015. We were also delighted to welcome a transport planner all the way from Manchester, and hopefully in 2015 we will be opening further chapters across the UK – so look out!

We would once again like to thank KDH Associates for their generous sponsorship.

As always we hope those that attended had an enjoyable evening and we look forward to welcoming you our events in 2015.

Please also read KDH Associates review of the evening here.

Photos available via our Facebook page.