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The Gap between Town Planning and Resilience - thoughts ahead of the RTPI Conference 2022

"The gap" is right here - Levelling up, place-making and place-shaping - why this should be at the heart of the national risk reduction and resilience agenda? More often than not when we talk about what is community resilience – we mean bottom up, participatory, locally led approaches to risk reduction. We mean planning for risk, response, recovery and resilience at the local level. I am fortunate enough to have transdisciplinary experience from town planning. I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the role of neighbourhood planning as a tool for building community resilience. All case studies indicated that yes, communities were more resilient as a result of local neighbourhood planning, through a capital-based approach. Communities had a better understanding for local risk, local needs and could help shape their local development (to the extent that the planning system would enable). From there as a Neighbourhood planning officer, I supported and enabled parishes to go beyond NIMBYISM to create mutually beneficial policies. Policies that reflected their local development needs and local risks. Both experiences revealed unfortunately, many considered the planning system in our county as tokenistic, top-down, and toothless at the local scale. This gave me the awareness that communities are operating with one hand tied behind their back. In risk reduction, we strive for people-centred approaches, locally led solutions. But why should emergency planners or emergency managers care? Planning for planning sake? planning for response? Conveyor belt of emergency plans? endless response mode? What if we could treat risk at the root cause and work with those we serve to do it? The more I ponder this thought in particular, the frustration is that many know this is the approach that needs to be taken and we would if we were enabled - except we too have one hand tied behind our back. So, what stops this evolution? – is it top down siloistic planning? Why is government policy between planning, placemaking, development and risk reduction and resilience not interconnected? - Especially when pivotal to the protection of lives, livelihoods and places? Why are we working with one hand behind our back as well? How can we find a better way? a way to stop building back and just build better. build better with other sectors and partners to reduce risk and build more resilient capabilities? We know that risk is exponentially increasing. We know that vulnerabilities are being exacerbated – so why are we not involved in helping to shape and make the places we serve and co-protect? Why is risk reduction not at the heart of planning policy for place making? Where is the joined-up systems-based approach? Why does our sector not get a seat at the table? and why do they not get a seat at ours?

TCPA Annual Conference 2022: Unpicking ‘levelling up’: what does it mean for place-making?

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