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

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.




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.


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