8th November 2020 marks the 71st World Town Planning Day, and this year’s focus is an important one.
By shining a spotlight on the social pillars of equity, diversity and inclusion, the industry will take further steps forward to create spaces in which all community stakeholders can stand strong.
Emerging from the current public health crisis, this is more vital than ever.
Without a doubt, town planning will be fundamental in rebuilding our communities following the Coronavirus pandemic, and this focus on inclusivity, equity and diversity will be key in ensuring no group gets left behind.
Each ethnic, religious and socio-economic group have their own set of unique needs, as do disabled individuals and those with accessibility requirements. It is key that our towns are designed to allow everyone to access what our cities have to offer with ease.
And of course, there is no better way to assess and address the needs of a range of individuals than by ensuring we are all represented within the industry itself.
This is why empowering Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) planners, women and gender non-conforming planners and disabled planners is, and will remain, a top priority.
Since the introduction of the “Diversity and Equality in Planning – A Good Practice Guide” by the UK Government back in 2005, progress has been made towards a more inclusive and diverse future for town planning.
This includes the introduction of the Positive Action Training Pathway (PATH), which aims to remove barriers commonly faced by under-represented groups, including LGBT+, disabled and BAME individuals.
The work doesn’t stop there. A variety of organisations and networks have been formed in recent years, with the sole aim of propelling under-represented groups up the career ladder, allowing for greater diversity within the town planning industry.
The BAME Planners Network, for example, aims to empower and raise the profile of BAME planners in the UK and Ireland, paving the way for increased representation at the top of the town planning hierarchy.
Supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in reaching management level is the number one way to ensure real consideration is afforded to each community within our towns and cities.
Women in Planning is another of these organisations set up to increase equality and inclusivity within the industry. This network is open to all, and focuses on empowering women town planners by increasing the visibility of women, promoting female role models, creating networking opportunities and supporting the professional development of its members. At Planning House we’re proud that Helen Heward is Chair of Women in Planning North East Branch.
Without a doubt, progress is being made, but there is still more to be done. Helen Fadipe MRTPI, founder of the BAME Planners Network has highlighted that despite a heavy focus on the implications of planning policies on inequality, the lack of representation of BAME planners is often overlooked.
This year’s World Town Planning Day will raise awareness of these issues, allowing the industry to make further progression towards the inclusivity and diversity we need.